Antibiotic Use

“Antibiotics and similar drugs, together called antimicrobial agents, have been used for the last 70 years to treat patients who have infectious diseases. Since the 1940s, these drugs have greatly reduced illness and death from infectious diseases. Antibiotic use has been beneficial and, when prescribed and taken correctly, their value in patient care is enormous. However, these drugs have been used so widely and for so long that the infectious organisms the antibiotics are designed to kill have adapted to them, making the drugs less effective. People infected with antimicrobial-resistant organisms are more likely to have longer, more expensive hospital stays, and may be more likely to die as a result of the infection.” - Centers for Disease Control

"Ever since antibiotics became widely available about 50 years ago, they have been hailed as miracle drugs--magic bullets able to destroy disease-causing bacteria.

"But with each passing decade, bacteria that resist not only single, but multiple, antibiotics--making some diseases particularly hard to control--have become increasingly widespread. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), virtually all significant bacterial infections in the world are becoming resistant to the antibiotic treatment of choice. For some of us, bacterial resistance could mean more visits to the doctor, a lengthier illness, and possibly more toxic drugs. For others, it could mean death. The CDC estimates that, each year, nearly 2 million people in the United States acquire an infection while in a hospital, resulting in 90,000 deaths. More than 70 percent of the bacteria that cause these infections are resistant to at least one of the antibiotics commonly used to treat them.

"Antibiotic resistance, also known as antimicrobial resistance, is not a new phenomenon. Just a few years after the first antibiotic, penicillin, became widely used in the late 1940s, penicillin-resistant infections emerged that were caused by the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus). These "staph" infections range from urinary tract infections to bacterial pneumonia. Methicillin, one of the strongest in the arsenal of drugs to treat staph infections, is no longer effective against some strains of S. aureus. Vancomycin, which is the most lethal drug against these resistant pathogens, may be in danger of losing its effectiveness; recently, some strains of S. aureus that are resistant to vancomycin have been reported.

"Although resistant bacteria have been around a long time, the scenario today is different from even just 10 years ago, says Stuart Levy, M.D., president of the Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics. 'The number of bacteria resistant to many different antibiotics has increased, in many cases, tenfold or more. Even new drugs that have been approved are confronting resistance, fortunately in small amounts, but we have to be careful how they're used. If used for extended periods of time, they too risk becoming ineffective early on.'" - US Food and Drug Administration

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Antibiotic Use

ANTIBIOTICS IN OUR MEAT
Food products are bellwethers that tell us how bad the crisis of antibiotic resistance is getting. And they’re telling us it’s getting worse.

ANTIBIOTICS IN ELDERCARE
Elderly nursing home residents are often prescribed courses of antibiotics that last 10 days or more, a new Canadian study shows, which may needlessly raise the risk of drug resistance and secondary infections.

ANTIBIOTICS IN LIVESTOCK
One farmer, who kept two horses and two cows, was diagnosed with a MRSA blood infection. The other, a 69-year-old woman who had a flock of 10 sheep, had a wound that had become infected with MRSA. When their cases came to light, they were recognized as a new MRSA strain that has been reported in cattle.

NO NEW ANTIBIOTICS
“This is absolutely a concern. Drug-resistant diseases are increasing on a world-wide scale,” says Dr. James Malow, infectious disease specialist at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago. “And it’s true—there are no new antibiotics in the pharmaceutical pipeline.”

WE NEED A NEW BATTLE PLAN
There have been no new classes of antibiotics discovered since 1987. If this were a conventional war, I think we would have realised the need for a concerted effort long before now.