CDC Issues Warning of Pandemic: Antibiotics Are Not Working Anymore as Bacteria Resistance Is Happening at Alarming Rate – Meat Industry the Problem?

CDC Issues Warning of Pandemic: Antibiotics Are Not Working Anymore as Bacteria Resistance Is Happening at Alarming Rate – Meat Industry the Problem?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are using a scary, scary word right now:  untreatable. That’s right – UNTREATABLE.   According to the CDC, over 2,000,000 people every year in the United States are infected with germs that are resistant to antibiotics and medical professionals are not able to help or treat these patients.  The CDC reports that 23,000 people die every year as a result.

“Antibiotic resistance is rising for many different pathogens that are threats to health,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “If we don’t act now, our medicine cabinet will be empty and we won’t have the antibiotics we need to save lives.”
The CDC is studying these antibiotic resistant strains and categorizing them into three levels:  urgent, serious, and concerning.  Results of the CDC’s research thus far has been published in a report entitled, “Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States, 2013.

Read the report by clicking on this image:

The Urgent Problem of Antibiotic-Resistent Germs

Urgent threats in the report are the most serious threats to human life.  The CDC finds that the urgent antibiotic resistant threats are infections resulting from things like carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE); a form of  gonorrhea that isn’t cured by current antibiotics, and a form of diarrhea or gut infection called Clostridium difficile, that happens after antibiotic treatment for other things.

This gut infection is particularly scary:  “C. Difficile” is reported to have resulted in over 250,000 people being hospitalized because of it and over 14,000 people dying from it, every year.

Use of Antibiotics in Meat Industry Is Part of the Problem

Right now, the meat and poultry industries use antibiotics on animals that will be food for humans all the time. The animals are given antibiotics not only to treat disease but also as a preventative measure.  Antibiotics are also given to animals that will be sold as food because it helps them grow bigger.  And a bigger product is a higher price and a bigger profit.

This despite the warnings against using antibiotics too often, because resistance is known to develop over time. Nevertheless, the meat industry isn’t stopping its antibiotic use on its animals, and unless you specifically look for antibiotic-free poultry, beef, or pork at your local grocery, you and your family will be bringing home and injesting antibiotics along with your family meal.

“Every time antibiotics are used in any setting, bacteria evolve by developing resistance.  This process can happen with alarming speed,” said Steve Solomon, M.D., director of CDC’s Office of Antimicrobial Resistance. “These drugs are a precious, limited resource—the more we use antibiotics today, the less likely we are to have effective antibiotics tomorrow.”

According to the CDC, half of the antibiotics used today – on humans and on animals – are not needed.  Food producers are not voluntarily stopping their antibiotic programs, however.  Once again, profits drive the actions of many – and it may well be that only through injury lawsuits based upon antibiotic usage in the face of research and reports like this one from the CDC that things will change.  Be careful out there.

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