Skip to main content

Crossposted at Polislice.com

In the Summer of 2011 my 92 year old father was faced with a diagnosis of terminal heart failure – maybe 3 months to live, unless he underwent heart valve replacement surgery. For someone of his age this is a rarity, but he was judged healthy enough otherwise to withstand the surgery. He came through the surgery beautifully, a miracle, no? With the new valves he could now reasonably expect to make it to 95, 100, who knows? But then while spending a month in a rehab facility to get his strength back he caught Clostridium difficile (commonly called C.diff), a nasty and very communicative intestinal infection that causes extreme diarreah and weakness, can lead to colitis, and is very, very difficult to beat. It is one of the many superbugs plaguing medical science today.

For his advanced heart failure there was a miraculous answer. For the superbug he caught during his hospital/rehab experience, no miracles. In fact, the quality of life promised by the heart surgery was negated by the infection. Like a cruel joke, the surgery gave him hope, the infection gave him despair. The infection ended his independent life and nearly killed him outright.

The doomsday preppers, the negativity about the economy, the plethora of entertainment (books, movies, video games) about Earth (or just America) being turned into an apocalyptic hellscape by zombies, vampires or alien invasions, all seem to indicate something in the zeitgeist (if not the water) that is inspiring the fear of complete breakdowns of society (i.e. “libertarian utopias” ha! I kid Rand Paul) – the worst possible scenario – that has never happened on a world wide basis. But in fact, we have had actual pandemics that have caused the deaths of millions of people. The Bubonic Plague, small pox, cholera, deadly influenzas – imagine millions dying! Hundreds of millions!  It’s happened in the last century, and it can happen again.

The irony would be if it happened not because our technology and medicine was too backward to handle it, but because it had advanced to the point that it was taken for granted and the unintended and unforeseen consequences (which are never actually unforeseen) of its cavalier overuse become horrifically tragic.

Infectious disease doctors are reporting an explosion of what they term superbugs – bacteria that have evolved strains that are resistant to existing antibiotics. Let that sink in. The idea that you could get a bug that you could go to your doctor to treat and they will have nothing for you. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls antibiotic resistance one of its “top concerns” and “one of the world’s most pressing health problems.”

How do the bacteria evolve in such a way?  ”Resistance occurs when bacteria genetics change in response to a drug, especially in non-lethal concentrations where the antibiotic is “tickling the bacteria, rather than killing it,” said Dr. Lynora Saxinger, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Alberta.

Today millions of pounds of antibiotics, Alexander Fleming’s wonder drug that changed medicine and saved millions of lives, are handed out like candy to humans with viral infections and used as a prophylactic on healthy farm animals to improve the bottom lines of CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operation). The Union of Concerned Scientists estimates that 70% of all antibiotics are used as additives in feed given to healthy pigs, poultry and cattle raised in extremely unhealthy conditions to promote health and growth.

The Ontario Medical Association is calling for a ban on the prophylactic use of antibiotics in agriculture in Canada.  

The European Union has already banned prophylactic use of antibiotics in agriculture, while the U.S. government has curbed some of it.

“Patients are now dying from infections that physicians have been successfully treating for decades.”

“The problem of bacteria impervious to antibiotics has moved beyond the oft-reported super bugs like MRSA (methicillin-resistantStaphylococcus aureus) and C. difficile, and affects a “multitude” of common infections from strep throat to salmonella, the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) warns.”

http://news.nationalpost.com/...

The FDA issued new rules on animal use of antibiotics last year as they have tried to curb the overuse for 35 years.  It is estimated that at least 2 million people develop hospital-acquired infections every year, and 99,000 die.  So that’s 33 9/11s every year!  That’s about  as many Americans die each year of gun related deaths.

Antibiotics were the wonder drugs of the 20th century, and their initial uses in humans and animals were indiscriminate, experts say. Farmers were impressed that antibiotics led to rapid animal growth and began to add the drugs to feed and water, with no prescriptions or sign of sickness in the animals.

By the 1970s, public health officials had become worried that overuse was leading to the development of infections resistant to treatment in humans. In 1977, the F.D.A. announced that it would begin banning some agricultural uses. But the House and Senate appropriations committees — dominated by agricultural interests — passed resolutions against the ban, and the agency retreated. In the years since, the issue of antibiotic overuse in animals and drug resistance has become one of the leading public health concerns worldwide. Those concerns have over recent years even convinced some in the agricultural community that action was needed.

The new rules generated mixed reactions from both public health advocates and agricultural trade associations. Laura Rogers of the Pew Campaign on Human Health and Industrial Farming called the new rules “the most sweeping action the agency has undertaken in this area,” while Caroline Smith DeWaal of the Center for Science in the Public Interest criticized them as “tragically flawed” because they relied too much on voluntary industry efforts.

Clearly, the voluntary nature of this rule means the huge meat packing industry will continue to have their bought and paid for veterinarians write prescriptions based on the health of their bottom line. Stronger action needs to be taken

http://www.fda.gov/...

http://www.nytimes.com/...

For humans, the overuse and misuse is so widespread that the CDC says more than 10 million courses of antibiotics a year are prescribed for viral conditions that will not benefit from them. It may seem harmless to proscribe them to people and animals, but all those antibiotics work their way through our digestive systems and into the waste water, the water supply, and into the food chain. The low levels that are constantly in our systems then “tickle” the bacteria and the bacteria evolve resistance.

The list of new superbugs plaguing the medical community and threatening the public keeps growing.

A new superbug is on the rise in U.S. hospitals, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The family of germs, dubbed CRE for carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, evades some the strongest antibiotics, making infections almost untreatable.

“Right now, these infections are limited to hospitals, but we know from history that bacteria that start in hospitals often find a way out into the community,” said ABC News chief health and medical editor Dr. Richard Besser, who for seven years ran a CDC program aimed at promoting proper antibiotic use to curb antibiotic resistance. “That would be a nightmare scenario.”

http://abcnews.go.com/...
What can be done to keep antibiotic resistance under control?

In the wider world, there is now concern that antibiotic resistance could continue to develop to the point where some bacteria are resistant to all antibiotics. To stop this from happening, the medical profession has taken a number of steps:

1. Reducing its levels of antibiotic prescribing by no longer prescribing antibiotics for viral infections. For example, many coughs and colds are caused by viruses and antibiotics will have no effect whatsoever. In the past, antibiotics were prescribed to help prevent co-infection with bacteria, however this only served to increase antibiotic resistance and has been stopped.

2. Encouraging patients to finish their whole course of antibiotics, regardless of whether they feel better earlier or not. This measure is particularly important in preventing resistant bacteria from surviving and multiplying.

3. Using infection control measures in hospitals, including handwashing between patients, to minimize the chances of bacteria being passed from one patient to another.

So what can we do? In Part II the thoughts of a frustrated doctor.

Originally posted to jetfan on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 07:15 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Part II Will Have the Comment of a very (8+ / 0-)

    frustrated doctor who tries to educate her patients about antibiotic overuse, but is browbeaten by them into handing them useless prescriptions.

    Poor man wanna be rich Rich man wanna be king And a King ain't satisfied Till he rules everything

    by jetfan on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 07:25:36 AM PDT

    •  In my area of NY it's changed, but (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kyril

      I'll tell you, when you're in the middle of an illness it's not easy to hear, especially since I lost some of my hearing thanks to conservative antibiotic treatment. It was the "right thing to do" and hindsight is 20/20, but it's a fucking bitch.

      Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree. -Martin Luther

      by the fan man on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 05:21:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  My stepmother's death (7+ / 0-)

    a couple of years ago, was partially due to C. Diff. The primary cause was Parkinson's, but the C. Diff finished the job, not only for her, but 7 other people in the same week from the same SNF.

    A nasty, nasty little bug.

    Anyone who scoffs at happiness needs to take their soul back to the factory and demand a better one. -driftglass

    by postmodernista on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 09:22:05 AM PDT

  •  that's the problem with natural selection (9+ / 0-)

    microorganisms can evolve resistances far faster than we can come up with new antibiotics to kill them.

    Bacteria can reproduce in a few hours. Entire generations of millions of bacteria can be born and die within a day. They evolve at a speed that is beyond our ability to comprehend in any meaningful way.

    Conversely, the number of new drugs that can safely be used in humans is limited, and it's increasingly expensive to develop new ones. All the "easy" antibiotics have already been discovered. To make a new one now is ever more difficult and takes years.

    Every antibiotic dies of its own success--initially it's used because it's effective against certain bacteria. As it becomes more and more widely used, more and more bacteria are exposed to it more and more often, creating an ever-increasing selection pressure that forces the rapid evolution of resistant strains. Resistant strains proliferate and crowd out the non-resistant ones, and then you end up back at square one.

    It's a ultimately a losing game, like trying to bail a leaky boat with a sieve.

    Sure, if you are a little more careful in how you use them, you can preserve the efficacy of antibiotics for a bit longer and temporarily delay the inevitable. But ultimately you will still end up creating multi-resistant microbial strains.

    "Antibiotic" means literally "against life." And how can you defeat life? Life is one of the most tenacious things we know of. You can find living organisms in the harshest conditions, in deep-sea vents, hot springs, in arctic cold, everywhere. You can't defeat life.

    Someday soon, the medical profession will have to seriously rethink its approach to treating infectious disease. Always seeking to kill the infective agent outright with antibiotics is simply not a viable approach, in the long run.

    "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

    by limpidglass on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 10:38:51 AM PDT

    •  There is also little economic incentive (13+ / 0-)

      for drug companies to develop something that, ideally, is only given to stop an outbreak. The money is in making Lipitors, drugs large numbers of people will take every day for the rest of their lives.

      Actually, there is no lack of ideas for what to do "after antibiotics". Antibiotics based on so-called "rational drug design", where we pick a receptor to block and design a molecule that blocks it, might be effective for longer periods than naturally occurring antibiotics, because genes for resistance would have to be evolved de novo, rather than spread horizontally from existing reservoirs.

      But that would still be perusing a chemical warfare strategy. Other ideas involve blocking quorum sensing in pathogenic bacteria, or strengthening the ability of our own microbiota to resist invasion. However, research is underfunded because Big Pharma wants to make Lipitors.

      •  "Persuing" not "perusing" (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Chi, peachcreek

        argh...

      •  the bottom line of pharmaceutical companies-- (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        foresterbob, ZenTrainer

        and they have said so quite candidly--is aided by making people sicker. Healthy people have no need to buy your drugs. Sick people do.

        There is no financial incentive to solve the antibiotic resistance crisis--indeed, the incentive mitigates against solving the crisis. If you increase a patient's ability to fight off disease, he has less need for your drugs.

        On the other hand, an ever-expanding proliferation of resistant microorganisms necessitates the development of ever-more-expensive and powerful new antibiotics, and thus ensures that there will be more and more sick people coming to you, needing to buy your drugs--not just your antibiotics, but for other conditions as well.

        Quite aside, of course, from the fact that pharmaceutical companies are pursuing the next "blockbuster" drug, as you say, and not worried about developing innovative treatments for infectious diseases.

        "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

        by limpidglass on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 05:52:27 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  "we" could come up with new antibiotics (0+ / 0-)

      at a much more rapid pace if there were an economic incentive to do so.

      Sadly, that's the way the world works . . .

      And it actually is not trivial for bacteria to develop resistance - they typically do not do it de novo, but through transfer of genes that some other bacteria already has to combat the antibiotic in question.

  •  My own pet peeve (9+ / 0-)

    regards the "antibacterial" soaps that people spray right and left at the gym I frequent.  

    I don't know if such soaps hold the potential to breed super-bugs -- I would think the best candidates for that are the gentler antibiotics that are designed to be ingested without killing the host -- but their aggregate toxicity appalls me.  

    Every day, spray, spray, spray.  Is gym sweat really so toxic that we need to overwhelm it with additional toxins?  

    Even the special anti-bacterial evapo-gels have now been shown to be toxic, yet people slather it all over as if there were no tomorrow.  When can we can rid of all this poison?  

    •  Yep, they are bad. (6+ / 0-)

      This  was a big deal to an infection control nurse I used to work with. She would go on a long rant about it whenever it came up.

      Unless you are going in for surgery, use regular soap.

    •  That's why 70% ethanol is more effective (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cassandra Waites

      (e.g., the Purrell (sp?) products.

      Is that what you are talking about wrt to the "evapo-gels"?

      Yup, they're toxic but there are a huge number of people who willing ingest, not just slather their skin with, the toxin in question.  Oddly enough

    •  NO, total IGNORANCE. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      maybeeso in michigan

      Chemicals that destroy living organisms do NOT breed more powerful versions.

      Carbon based life forms are all susceptible to being destroyed by ammonia, chlorine, and alcohol. These chemicals break down cell structures and kill the organism.

      There is no such thing as a CHLORINE RESISTANT bacteria living in your kitchen or bathroom or at the gym.

      Humans are not chlorine resistant either, the only thing keeping YOU from dissolving is the layers of dead skin on the surface of your body to be damaged while protecting your live skin cells.

      Short of evolving into a totally NEW LIFEFORM, a non-carbon based alien lifeform, what bacteria left alive after you wipe down surfaces with anti-bacterial chemicals.... ammonia, chlorine or alcohol... are simply the ones that weren't exposed to the chemical you used.

      You are not leaving behind SUPER BUGS, impervious to whatever, that will go on to conquer the world. Use more chemical, scrub harder, you can kill 100%, there is no magic here.

      •  Please read my post carefully. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mrkvica

        I never claimed that.  Total illiteracy?  

      •  While that is true (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Eikyu Saha, Roadbed Guy

        some antimicrobial preparations, in an effort to be less toxic, use compounds that work in ways that may promote the development of resistant strains.

        Triclosan is one, although so far it looks OK.

        "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

        by kyril on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 03:51:58 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Depends on what you mean by "OK" (0+ / 0-)

          As the Wikipedia article you linked discusses, at least in theory resistant bacteria could arise from Triclosan use (and once this happens, the genes that are responsible would likely quickly spread throughout the bacterial world).

          Plus, it's a chlorinated compound, all of which (including all of the natural ones, presumably) Greenpeace seeks to ban . ..  so hopefully you're not a member of that organization unless, of course, you are able to live with a good deal of cognitive dissonance.

      •  OK (0+ / 0-)

        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/...

        Killing of Chlorine-Resistant Bacteria by Chlorine-Bromine Solutions
        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/...
        Chlorine resistance patterns of bacteria from two drinking water distribution systems.
        Bacteria from the chlorinated system were more resistant to both the combined and free forms of chlorine than those from the unchlorinated system, suggesting that there may be selection for more chlorine-tolerant microorganisms in chlorinated waters.

        Drop the name-calling MB 2/4/11 + Please try to use ratings properly! Kos 9/9/11

        by indycam on Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 04:39:19 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I also had a doctor tell me (5+ / 0-)

    recently to stop using anti bacterial soap and Purell type liquids. Many people don't realize that you have to wash your hands for at least a full minute with AB soap for it to kill harmful bacteria so instead using it only a hsort you end up killing the weaker bacteria leaving only the bacteria that is stronger. The same with the Purell only killing the weaker but leaving the stronger to become super bugs by developing to be able to resist the antiseptic properties more and more.

    •  Alcohol doesn't work that way. (0+ / 0-)

      Alcohol-based hand sanitizers aren't going to create alcohol-resistant bacteria (there's no such thing).

      However, some antibacterial soaps may use active ingredients that are of concern.

      "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

      by kyril on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 03:54:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Clostridium difficile (6+ / 0-)

    Clostridium difficile infection is from the decimation of competing intestinal bacteria by antibiotic use. http://en.wikipedia.org/.... It is treated in acute cases with a "shit transplant," pardon the crudity, to repopulate the intestine.

    This is a very complex issue. I have been working on a antibiotic project. I am definitely not a doctor or specialist, but some of the things you say aren't completely true. I will give an example about keeping antibiotic resistance under control. Your comment that  "patients to finish their whole course of antibiotics" may be quite misleading. Part of the project I am working on is to assess the effectiveness of antibiotics after 24 / 48 / 72 hours. The fact is that if you are not getting better after 48 hours, the antibiotic should be discontinued and a different one used. And if you are better, many antibiotic courses should be discontinued absolutely as quickly as possible due to toxicity. The idea is to move from broad spectrum antibiotics, such as the b-lactam carbapenems, to a more specific b-lactam, such as Zosyn. This is done through assessing the disease causing pathogens, understanding the local antibiotic susceptibilities (i.e. resistances) and monitoring the patient. Of course this is only for patients in hospital and on IV drugs and not with your pediatrician sending your kid with a cold home with ampicillin - a terrible practice.
    Otherwise I agree that this is one of the most important public health issues, and I am rec'ing the diary.

    "You can die for Freedom, you just can't exercise it"

    by shmuelman on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 12:05:18 PM PDT

  •  A few comments... (4+ / 0-)

    First thanks for the diary, it is well done. Some concerned folks here and elsewhere start off on the right track (in my opinion, obviously) but go off into unnecessary hyperbole. If we want to fix this, staying scientific and factual is required.

    H.R. 1150: Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act of 2013 was recently reintroduced by Rep Slaughter. It probably has zero chance of passing, but it can serve as an anchor point to discuss and educate. Your quote above to the contrary, Pew charitable trust is one of the good guys in this debate.

    Finally, one answer to overuse of antibiotics can come from better technology. A pediatrician friend who is on the hospital infection control committee and has tried for years to educate her colleagues and patients about proper use of antibiotics recently commented that new cheap tests (probably PCR based) at her clinic has really helped. When a test shows Jimmy has RSV, it is very easy to reassure the parents that an antibiotic is not needed and is in fact inappropriate. With recent studies on the benefits of maintaining our natural bacterial flora, it is easier to convince parents that antibiotic use should only be used when absolutely necessary. These cheaper tests also give a great epidemiological view of what is occurring in the community.

    Just some thoughts, again thanks for your work. I look forward to the second installment.

  •  You don't mention drug resistant TB. (0+ / 0-)

    This is the scariest one that I know of. If you get it, you had better hope that you have a great immune system. Otherwise you die. Just like the doomed heroine in a Dickens novel.

    Of course you have the chance to infect everyone around you first.

  •  Don't worry (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Jester, maybeeso in michigan

    I hear from some very reliable resources that evolution isn't a thing, you know.  It doesn't happen, they tell me.

    Streichholzschächtelchen

    by otto on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 02:01:16 PM PDT

  •  My BIL can no longer eat commercial beef (2+ / 0-)

    because of the amount of antibiotics in the meat.  He's allergic to most of them.

    And I had to have this wretched sinus surgery because neither augmentin nor zithromycin nor avalox nor doxycycline could kill the infection.  It had to be physically removed and taken away by doctors and nurses in spacesuits.  You wanna bet that it's still there?  Me neither.

    "Republicans are poor losers and worse winners." - My grandmother, sometime in the early 1960s

    by escapee on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 02:50:56 PM PDT

  •  In a way this diary conflates two (3+ / 0-)

    separate topics - both worthy on their own, but somewhat distinct.

    For example, the antibiotics used in massive quantities for agriculture have by and large long ago lost any clinical use.  

    And their purpose is NOT to treat infections in livestock, but to alter the composition of the animals gut biota such that they will grow faster.

    •  animal use (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Roadbed Guy

      Is there consensus on the effects of overuse of antibiotics in animals? Is there research on potential impacts to development of new bacterial illnesses for humans with significant antibiotic resistance?

      -5.38, -2.97
      The NRA doesn't represent the interests of gun owners. So why are you still a member?

      by ChuckInReno on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 01:34:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  There is some consensus emerging on (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kyril

        the mechanism by which antibiotics function to increase the grow rate of livestock - it allows them to harvest more energy from the food by altering the composition of the species that comprise the animal's gut biota:

        We aren’t single individuals, but colonies of trillions. Our bodies, and our guts in particular, are home to vast swarms of bacteria and other microbes. This “microbiota” helps us to harvest energy from our food by breaking down the complex molecules that our own cells cannot cope with. They build vitamins that we cannot manufacture. They ‘talk to’ our immune system to ensure that it develops correctly, and they prevent invasions from other more harmful microbes. They’re our partners in life.

        What happens when we kill them?

        Farmers have been doing that experiment in animals for more than 50 years. By feeding low doses of antibiotics to healthy farm animals, they’ve found that they could fatten up their livestock by as much as 15 percent. You can put the antibiotics in their feed or in their water. You can give the drugs to cows, sheep, pigs or chickens. You can try penicillins, or tetracyclines, or many other classes of antibiotics. The effect is the same: more weight.

        Consistent though this effect is, no one really understands why it works. The safe bet is that the drugs are exerting their influence by killing off some of the microbiota. Now, Ilseung Cho from the New York University School of Medicine has confirmed that hypothesis.

        link with more

        A couple of salient points are

        1) that only a subset of gut biota are killed - many or most of bugs that live in a cow's gut are naturally resistant

        2) the author of the article I linked speculates that the same effect may be occurring in humans (albeit probably not from residual antibiotics obtained from meat)

  •  Beyond antibiotics (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kyril

    With antibiotics becoming less effective, we may have to rethink the approach to infection. One way is prevention.

    For example, since C. difficile doesn't cause illness unless the spores germinate, researchers have tried using agents that keep the spores from germinating. In mice, at least, a particular bile salt analog has proved very effective for that. You can read the study abstract here.

    Also, medicine (like Louis Pasteur on his deathbed, supposedly) may have to pay less attention to germs and more to the 'terrain' they grow in. The most extreme example are the stories, from the time of the Black Death in the middle ages, of villages where the only survivor of the epidemic were the guys who had this job. You don't have to kill the germs if they aren't growing in the first place.

  •  Where is the surprise. You kill off the bacteria.. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    maybeeso in michigan

    ... that the drug kills off, if any bacteria survive... BECAUSE THEY ARE UNAFFECTED BY THE DRUG... then those bacteria will now go on and reproduce a new generation of drug proof bacteria.

    This is a classic lab example of evolution in action. We have used a drug to "naturally select" the bacteria resistant to that drug.

    This arms race to develop defenses against microbes has been going on for billions of years, and each time the battle is won, if it was not total extinction, the survivors live on to pass on their survivor attributes to continuing generations.

    Modern medicine with drugs has simply accelerated the process.

    The solution is to design drugs that are NOT SURVIVABLE, that act in a manner that there is no surviving.

    Our CHEMICAL weapons are such, ammonia and chlorine do not leave survivors if used right, and the only way an organism could survive would be to "evolve" into an entirely new life form, a non-carbon based life form.

    The same goes for radiation. The final stand our science has is radiation in massive doses. The choice would come down to DIE NOW from the bacterial infection, or risk cancer and radiation poisoning down the road.

    We are at the point where genetic breakthroughs will give us new weapons, to directly target specific organisms and DNA time bombs that take no prisoners, and leave ZERO survivors to live on and re-populate the world with resistant versions of their species.

    But, ultimately anyone surprised by this turn of events just wasn't paying attention in biology class.

    Yes, we must END the use of antibiotics in animal production, it is insane, and is risking all human life for a few assholes to make an extra buck.... hardly a sane choice for the most advanced species on the planet.

    But make no mistake, that will not stop the problem, only slow the on going human/microbe war down to a more sensible pace.

    We need to keep working on complete solutions through technology.

    •  I'm curious on exactly how such (0+ / 0-)

      chemicals can be used medicinally:

      Our CHEMICAL weapons are such, ammonia and chlorine do not leave survivors if used right,
      And to be more measured about this:
      Yes, we must END the use of antibiotics in animal production, it is insane, and is risking all human life for a few assholes to make an extra buck
      I personally do not see any harm in allowing existing antibiotics that are

      1) already used in massive doses in agriculture

      2) already have largely lost clinical efficacy in humans

      to continue to be used in agriculture.  

      Considering that 50 years later, they still are effective in their intended purpose (faster weight gain/growth) of the livestock in question, that indicates that the targeted strains of bacteria (as discussed in the link I gave above) have NOT developed widespread resistance.

  •  Im familiar with the issue.. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    maybeeso in michigan, mrkvica

    To say the least.

    Were you to meet me, it'd be impossible not to notice the scars. Skin ulcer scars. most are about the the same size around as a pencil, and are dotted all over me. Legs, sides, multiple on my torso, arms.. And one the size of a quarter on my face.

    MRSA. All told, I have 40 scars you can see; about half of them very easily. The others you'd probably need to know where to look. I gotta tell ya, the ones on the back of my knees were particularly horrible.

    Fortunately, I was finally able to beat it... after like six weeks. It sucked. I probably almost died; i say probably cause I cant really remember much of it.

    "Trust not the words of a poet, as he is born to seduce. Yet for poetry to seize the heart, it must ring with the chimes of truth."

    by kamrom on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 10:16:47 AM PDT

  •  Important issue (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Roadbed Guy

    Tipped & Recced. Very happy to see  this issue of overuse of anitbiotics getting attention.

    I'd like to see separate discussions on the effects from overuse in animals, and on the effects of overuse in medicine. As a poster noted above, I think these are separate issues.

    -5.38, -2.97
    The NRA doesn't represent the interests of gun owners. So why are you still a member?

    by ChuckInReno on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 01:36:39 PM PDT

  •  I hate to be a downer but what I think is terrible (0+ / 0-)

    There are no accidents here.   They are using all these things IMO for population control.  Greed and the power to
    rid many with weak immune systems.   We are getting sicker...We we helpless because the very wealthy get treatment..and good nutrition.  Ever see John Q?  Why all the wars?  Greed but population control.
    We are being killed one barbie at a time,
    we are being killed with the water, the air, the pollution and lack of healthcare, and only God knows what else is beamed in or being taken from us...globally, directed to the weaker among us...The old, the young, the poor, the underprivileged. the sick.

    We the People have to make a difference and the Change.....Just do it ! Be part of helping us build a veteran community online. United Veterans of America

    by Vetwife on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 05:31:47 PM PDT

  •  CAFOs are Confined Animal Feeding (0+ / 0-)

    Operations.

    You can have concentrated CAFOs and non-concentrated CAFOs.

    I have a CAFO license, but have a completely pasture raised and fed sheep operation.  They are not concentrated at all.

    According to your definition, I wouldn't need a license, but you would be wrong.

    •  But to add, my point of agreement (0+ / 0-)

      with you.  I only use antibiotics on my animals if they are sick, and it is likely to be a bacterial infection.  Because there is a huge problem with resistance to animal treatments on ranches already.  It's not just antibiotics, but all kinds of treatments.

      And I need my girls to be well.

      Now I run a dairy - and no antibiotics are allowed in milk.  So in effect, if I treat an animal with antibiotics, they are out of the milk stream for a year.  Which completely discourages the use in dairy.  Hopefully not to the point of not treating animals when it is called for.  But there are extremes on both sides.

      But I know neighbors, who raise just a few head of cattle a year, who pump them full of antibiotics because it's cheap and it's profitable.

      They have no such restriction.  And they are barely making it, so it's hard for me to judge.

  •  Thanks for this diary. (0+ / 0-)

    To say that the overuse of antibiotics in livestock production should not be a concern is rediculous.  Over 80% of all antibiotics sold last year in the US went to animals, mostly for livestock production.

    One person seemed to imply that doing so has had no affect on the population.  That would be difficult, if not impossible, to assess since the CDC hasn't released the number of MRSA's since 1995.  If he's knows where the public can get numbers on deaths from MRSA's and other superbugs, I would appreciate seeing those.  They did release this warning earlier this month stating that a couple of them have increased 250 and 550% respectively over the last 10 years.

    Perhaps he knows that the issue is heavily debated by experts;  but, the BigAg/(including chemical companies and BigPharm) are some of the most ardent lobbyists in Washington.  Since that person previously stated that he dabbles from time to time as a genetic engineer, perhaps he knows about or has worked for companies that genetically modify seeds for foodstuffs, like corn, soy and sugarbeets so that they can withstand more chemicals ...  So, perhaps he will understand when I say that I am more concerned with the amounts of herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers than the antibiotics that farmers are using to create oils, food and feed for livestock.  

    Here are some of the top reasons to eat less meat:

    In looking at the entire Industrial Farm Animal Production process, the stresses posed to health, water security, forests, climate change and biodiversity are glaring.  Meat consumption has been recognized by the UN FOA and the World Bank to be one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gases.

    Americans eat 4 times as much meat as the rest of the world on average.  Given that the rest of the world knows the facts about the threat it poses to global security, this is unethical.

    Heart disease is by far the biggest killer in the US.  It is preventable and reversible with a vegan (no animal products) diet.  By the way, ED is a sign of heart disease.

    The other issue is the cruel conditions of the animals throughout their lives.  Is that the direction that we, as Americans, want to go?  

    So, eating less meat helps the planet and future generations.  Try avoiding meat one day a week.  It gets easier from there.

    Eating sustainably produced meat and dairy when possible also helps.  

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site