To stop the abuse of antibiotics use in the production of beef, pork and poultry that causes dangerous bacteria, is a must
One of the greatest medical discoveries of the twentieth century happened accidentally. In 1928, scientist Alexander Fleming found mold on one of his petri dishes; Then found that around where mold was growing all the bacteria had been destroyed. Bactericidal mold was the first form of penicillin ... and that's how our society entered a new medical era.
Suddenly, deadly diseases like tuberculosis, scarlet fever, bacterial meningitis and diphtheria could be cured with a pill. Surgical interventions in cardiovascular diseases and organ transplants, as well as chemotherapy, worked well because those miracle drugs swept through infections that had arisen after treatment.
But less than a century after that revolutionary discovery, antibiotics are losing their efficacy. Their abuse has allowed bacteria to evolve in ways that have now become inaccessible to medications. This led to the emergence of "superbugs", including methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and bacteria resistant to 3 or more classes of antibiotics. And as the quantity and variety of superbugs increases, the development of antibiotics capable of killing them is lagging behind.
Each year, more than 2 million Americans contract antibiotic-resistant infections and 23,000 succumb fatally. "The antibiotics we've relied on for decades are losing effectiveness ... and we run the risk of going back to the time when people died of simple infections," says Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Prevention of Disease (CDC).
During the past year, Consumer Reports investigated the dangers of antibiotic abuse in hospitals and clinics, but nowhere is the use of these drugs worse than in the poultry and livestock industries. About 80% of the antibiotics sold in the US market are administered to animals that are raised for human consumption: pigs, cows, chickens and turkeys.
More recent data from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) show that over 2013 in the United States more than 32 million pounds of antibiotics were sold for use in animals for consumption: more than 17% than just 4 years earlier.
Recently, some poultry and livestock producers, such as Tyson, and restaurant chains, such as McDonald's and Subway, have committed to reducing the production or sale of beef, pork and poultry from animals raised with antibiotics. "But it remains to be seen whether such measures do or do not significantly reduce the use of antibiotics," says Gail Hansen, MD, who has more than 25 years of experience in veterinary public health and infectious disease.
"In recent years we have seen how some of the bacteria most commonly found in foods (germs like salmonella and campylobacter) become increasingly resistant to some antibiotics," says Robert Tauxe, MD, MPH, deputy director of The Division of Foodborne Diseases, Water, and the Environment of the CDC.
These resistant strains can cause infections that are "more severe, longer lasting and more difficult to treat," says Tauxe. In fact, estimates from CDC data show that about 20% of people who got sick from an antibiotic-resistant microorganism did not get into the hospital or anyone else: they came through Of their food.
Next delivery: Super bacteria in the meat you eat (2/12)