Daily News header

Antibiotics Causing Resistant Infections-and Linked to Obesity and Allergies

By

Overuse of Livestock Antibiotics

One of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy's (D-MA) last legislative fights was about the overuse of livestock antibiotics. "It seems scarcely believable that these precious medications could be fed by the ton to chickens and pigs," he wrote in a bill called the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act of 2007 (PAMTA). Over 70 percent of antibiotics go to livestock, not to people, said the PAMTA bill, a figure the drug industry refutes. "These precious drugs aren't even used to treat sick animals. They are used to fatten pigs and speed the growth of chickens. The result of this rampant overuse is clear: meat contaminated with drug-resistant bacteria sits on supermarket shelves all over America," said Kennedy.

farmzoo

Get Smart About Antibiotics Week

This week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has declared to be "Get Smart About Antibiotics Week" and is meeting with a coalition of 25 health organizations to address overuse of antibiotics. Excessive use of antibiotics in livestock operations and health care settings creates "superbugs" which no longer succumb to the antibiotics which once destroyed them.

Anyone who has rented an apartment which has both an exterminator and bugs has firsthand experience with the principle of antibiotic resistance. Organisms can become impervious to what is supposed to kill them and bigger and stronger. Resistant mosquitoes, it is said, when you slap them, they slap you back.

Overused Antibiotics

Antibiotics are overused by hospitals, clinics, schools, public facilities and households, and are unnecessarily put in dish and laundry detergent, soap, and even toothpaste by the chemical industry. In fact, antibiotics are overused and misused anytime they're used preventatively, for potential infections instead of for existing bacterial infections. Doctors and patients who "treat" colds and viruses with antibiotics also encourage antibiotic resistance because these conditions are not caused by bacteria. And people who stop taking antibiotics (when conditions are bacterial) before the medication is gone because they feel better also contribute to antibiotic resistance. The few bacteria that survive the antibiotic "bath" are stronger for the challenge and go on to cause more trouble. It is the ultimate biological demonstration of the maxim "That which doesn't kill you makes you stronger."

Still, most health professionals agree that the use of antibiotics in livestock operations is the biggest source of resistance. The pills are used to make animals grow faster and keep infections from erupting in the crowded, "factory" conditions and they do not appear on food labels. Efforts by medical organizations and the FDA to curtail farm use of antibiotics have gone nowhere even though they include the same drugs needed to treat urinary tract, intestinal, respiratory, ear and skin infections in humans, not to mention TB and STDs. Livestock antibiotics are a big source of revenue for Big Pharma.

Overuse of Antibiotics Kills 20,000 People a Year

Thanks to the overuse of antibiotics, MRSA, (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infections) kills 20,000 people a year and Clostridium difficile, a serious intestinal bug is developing resistance. Resistant Acinetobacter baumannii so afflicted US troops in Iraq it was dubbed "Iraqibacter," and Vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) has developed because of the use of the antibiotics virginiamycin and Avoparcin in livestock. VRE infections have been reported in 33 states and in commercial chicken feed, reported the Hartford Advocate.

And there is another worry. "Overuse of antibiotics could be fuelling the dramatic increase in conditions such as obesity, type 1 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, allergies and asthma, which have more than doubled in many populations," writes Martin Blaser, professor of microbiology at New York University's Langone Medical Center in the journal Nature. "Indeed, large studies we performed have found that people without the bacterium are more likely to develop asthma, hay fever or skin allergies in childhood," writes Blaser.

Could The Trends Be Linked?

As H. pylori, one bacterium, "has disappeared from people's stomachs, there has been an increase in gastroesophageal reflux, and its attendant problems such as Barrett's oesophagus and oesophageal cancer. Could the trends be linked? "writes Blaser. The proton pump inhibitors such as Prilosec, Prevacid and Protonix makes matters worse-altering the composition and capacity of bacteria in the colon, researchers report.

Because of their links to resistant infections and possibly obesity, asthma and gastrointestinal problems, it is good to see health professionals curtail the use of antibiotics. When will livestock operators follow suit?

Martha Rosenberg is a columnist and cartoonist, who writes about public health Read more stories by Martha Rosenberg.

  Please leave a comment here     If it does not display within 10 seconds, please refresh the page

Related Health News News

Could eating spicy peppers help prevent or slow down some intestinal cancers? A UC San Diego School of Medicine research team investigates.
The deadline for the realization of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by countries of the world is drawing to a close in 2015. The progress on MDGs might have been with mixed results, but lot of lessons need to be learnt while we frame n
In the year 2000, countries of the world had agreed to meet the 8 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. Numerous consultative processes have been taking place around the world on what should be the development goals post-2015.
Martha Rosenberg investigates a proposal that people watch the animals they eat being killed. Some say it encourages insensitivity and lack of empathy for suffering.
The first estimates of the global burden of TB in children given by the WHO in 2012, suggested that there might be 530,000 children suffering from it. Subsequently there has been an uptake in the research in this field.
We know that nearly one third of the 35 million people living with HIV (PLHIV) have tuberculosis (TB), and 13% of 8.6 million new TB cases every year are HIV positive. Also 1 in 5 HIV associated deaths are due to TB.

 

NewsBlaze Writers Of The Month



Popular Stories This Month

newsletter logo

NewsBlaze
Copyright © 2004-2014 NewsBlaze Pty. Ltd.
Use of this website is subject to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy  | DMCA Notice               Press Room   |    Visit NewsBlaze Mobile Site