In a major new statement about the overuse of antibiotics in agriculture, the World Health Organization is urging livestock agriculture and fish farming worldwide to sharply cut antibiotic use, reserving the precious drugs for animals that are sick and then choosing only antibiotics that are not important to human medicine. (No paywall)
Antibiotic-resistant infections — everything from gastrointestinal illnesses to recurring urinary tract infections and staph — are among the most menacing issues in public health today, sickening 2 million people a year and killing at least 23,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. So perhaps it’s not surprising that government has begun to take steps to limit antibiotics in animal agriculture, where many of these infections arise, before they wreak further havoc in humans.
A new study, to be published in November in the journal Science of the Total Environment, found that the waterways in Brazil’s two biggest cities have become “major sources of multidrug-resistant bacteria,” reports SciDev.Net. It is the first time these so-called superbugs have been found in these waters, which include those off the beaches of Rio de Janeiro, Guanabara Bay, and the waterways of São Paolo.
Poultry farms in India are dosing their chickens with antibiotics at such high rates that 94 percent of meat chickens and 60 percent of laying hens tested in a new study harbored multi-drug-resistant bacteria that can cause grave human infections.
Since the FDA began moving three years ago to control antibiotic use in meat animals — an effort that culminated in January with a ban on growth-promoter antibiotics, which fatten livestock inexpensively — farmers have wondered whether anything can take the drugs’ place.
A recent study from Denmark shows that a strain of drug-resistant staph carried by pigs is causing severe illnesses in people who have no contact with pigs or farms. The infections have occurred even though Denmark has some of the most stringent controls on antibiotic use and the study’s …
Doctors have prescribed the antibiotic vancomycin for 60 years against disease and infections in people "and bacteria are only now becoming resistant to it," says Britain's Press Association. "Scientists at the Scripps Research Institute in the United States have now modified the drug so it works in three separate ways on bacteria, making it much harder for them to develop resistance."
Activism around the contentious issue of giving antibiotics to meat animals is moving from the farm to the plate by putting pressure on restaurant chains. Last week, a coalition of 30 consumer and environmental groups pressed the cult California burger chain In-N-Out to change its antibiotics-related buying policy. At the same time, a shareholder group pushed McDonald’s to increase its antibiotic-free buying — and while the measure did not pass, 30 percent of shareholders voted for it.
The children of people who work in industrial hog farms in North Carolina, the second-largest hog-producing state in the country, are much more likely to be carrying drug-resistant bacteria than children whose households have no swine-farm contact, according to a new study.