Monday, October 14, 2013

Antibiotics in Our Food

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“If we are not careful, we will soon be in a post-antibiotic era,” Dr. Tom Frieden, the CDC’s director, said in a media briefing. “And for some patients and for some microbes, we are already there.”

Some very bad bacteria have developed resistance to antibiotics. The Center for Disease Control has released a new report  Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States 2013.

A number of these antibiotic resistant bacteria result in food borne illnesses. Antibiotic use in food animals can result in resistant bacteria, Campylobacter for example, that can spread to humans through the food we eat. Remember what Mom told you: Wash your hands!

The CDC warns us:
The use of antibiotics is the single most important factor leading to antibiotic resistance around the world . Antibiotics are among the most commonly prescribed drugs used in human medicine. However, up to 50% of all the antibiotics prescribed for people are not needed or are not optimally effective as prescribed .
Antibiotics are also commonly used in food animals to prevent, control, and treat disease, and to promote the growth of food-producing animals . The use of antibiotics for promoting growth is not necessary, and the practice should be phased out . Recent guidance from the U .S . Food and Drug Administration (FDA) describes a pathway toward this goal.
It is difficult to directly compare the amount of drugs used in food animals with the amount used in humans, but there is evidence that more antibiotics are used in food production . 
What can you do to help with this serious health concern? The CDC answers many questions HERE. One way, and an increasing popular way to protect yourself and your community from antibiotic resistance, is to become a Vegetarian and/or reduce your consumption of commercially produced meat. The money quotation from the article:

Q: How can I prevent antibiotic-resistant infections?

Only use antibiotics when they are likely to be beneficial
A: By visiting this website, you are taking the first step to reducing your risk of getting antibiotic-resistant infections. It is important to understand that, although they are very useful drugs, antibiotics designed for bacterial infections are not useful for viral infections such as a cold, cough, or the flu. Some useful tips to remember are:
  1. Talk with your healthcare provider about antibiotic resistance:
    • Ask whether an antibiotic is likely to be beneficial for your illness
    • Ask what else you can do to feel better sooner
  2. Do not take an antibiotic for a viral infection like a cold or the flu.
  3. Do not save some of your antibiotic for the next time you get sick. Discard any leftover medication once you have completed your prescribed course of treatment.
  4. Take an antibiotic exactly as the healthcare provider tells you. Do not skip doses. Complete the prescribed course of treatment even if you are feeling better. If treatment stops too soon, some bacteria may survive and re-infect.
  5. Do not take antibiotics prescribed for someone else. The antibiotic may not be appropriate for your illness. Taking the wrong medicine may delay correct treatment and allow bacteria to multiply.
  6. If your healthcare provider determines that you do not have a bacterial infection, ask about ways to help relieve your symptoms. Do not pressure your provider to prescribe an antibiotic.

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