Thursday, March 7, 2013

NY Times: Deadly Bacteria Resisting Strongest Drugs

According to Representative Louise Slaughter's (D-NY) office, "in the United States, 80% of all antibiotics are used in agriculture—primarily given at sub therapeutic levels to healthy food animals as a way to raise healthy animals in crowded and unsanitary conditions.
Overuse of antibiotics contribute significantly to the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria."

(Slaughter, a microbiologist, is the champion of antibiotic usage reform in Congress. She used to be very, very lonely, but as the dangers of antibiotics in our food supply have become more obvious, she has a lot of new best friends who happen to be Senators and Representatives.)

If the meat, dairy and eggs you are buying aren't organic or don't say "raised without antibiotics," assume antibiotics were used to help the cattle, chickens and pigs get twice as big in half the time. 

Why does it matter? Read "Deadly Bacteria That Resist Strongest Drugs Are Spreading" from earlier this week in The New York Times and you'll possibly changed your buying habits, if you haven't already. Click here to read the entire article, but here are its first four paragraphs:

"Deadly infections with bacteria that resist even the strongest antibiotics are on the rise in hospitals in the United States, and there is only a 'limited window of opportunity' to halt their spread, health officials warned Tuesday. 
"The bacteria, normally found in the gut, have acquired a lethal trait: they are unscathed by antibiotics, including carbapenems, a group of drugs that are generally considered a last resort. When these resistant germs invade parts of the body where they do not belong, like the bloodstream, lungs or urinary tract, the illness may be untreatable. The death rate from bloodstream infections can reach 50 percent. 

"Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, called the organisms 'nightmare bacteria' during a telephone news conference, and noted that they could pass their trait for drug resistance — encoded in a scrap of genetic material called a plasmid — along to other bacteria. 
"Most people who contract these infections already have other serious illnesses that require complicated treatment and lengthy stays in hospitals, nursing homes or long-term care facilities. One bit of good news, Dr. Frieden said, is that the infections do not seem to have spread beyond hospitals into the community at large. But that could easily happen, he warned."

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