Is The Tide Of Antibiotic Use On Farms Now Turning? – Dan Charles December 7, 20176:13 PM ET


Grass-fed, antibiotic-free cattle gather at a farm in Yamhill, Ore. For the first time, government statistics show America’s pigs, cattle and poultry are getting fewer antibiotic drugs.

Don Ryan/AP

Something unprecedented happened this week. The Food And Drug Administration released its annual accounting of antibiotics sold in America for use in poultry, pigs and cattle, and for the very first time, it reported that fewer of the drugs were sold. Sales of medically important antibiotics in 2016 declined by 14 percent, compared to 2015.

The new report is the strongest evidence so far that the FDA’s efforts to restrain antibiotic use on farms, along with public pressure, are having an effect. The FDA has been publishing these reports since 2009, and each report until this one had showed a steady increase in antibiotic sales for use in farm animals.

“It’s very encouraging,” says Karin Hoelzer, a former FDA scientist who now works at the Pew Charitable Trusts. Pew, along with many other environmental and public health advocacy groups, has been demanding tougher action by the FDA to reduce antibiotic use on farms. Using these drugs, whether in humans or in animals, promotes the development of drug-resistant bacteria, which have become a critical problem in human medicine.

According to a statement from Avinash Kar, a senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council, “this course change provides a glimmer of hope that we can beat the growing epidemic of drug-resistant infections.”

The FDA’s numbers show reductions in the sales of many different antibiotics. Penicillin sales were down 10 percent from 2015 to 2016, after rising more than 25 percent over the previous six years. Tetracyclines, an older class of drugs that account for a whopping 42 percent of all antibiotics use in food animals, declined by 15 percent.

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The Pork Industry’s Stance on Antibiotics Totally Misses the Point – JENNY LUNA APR. 13, 2017 6:00 AM


It’s as if they’ve never heard of superbugs.

Last week, fast-food poultry giant KFC joined McDonald’s, Chipotle, Panera Bread, and 11 other major chains in promising not to serve poultry raised with antibiotics. The announcement came after years of pressure from consumers and advocacy groups concerned about the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Because of the move, by next year, more than half of the chicken we eat in the United States will likely be free of antibiotics.

“Obviously they’re trying to change the subject,” one expert said of the Pork Council’s statement.

That’s a big deal: As my colleague Tom Philpott has reported, nearly two-thirds of all the antibiotics in the United States go to agriculture. Antibiotic use in agriculture increased by 22 percent from 2009 to 2014. The rampant overuse on farms means that bacteria adapt, become resistant, and can breed superbugs that pose a global threat to human health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called antibiotic resistance “one of the world’s most pressing health concerns.” Last fall, an elderly woman in Nevada was the first person to die of a strain of Klebsiella pneumoniae that resisted “all available antimicrobial drugs.”

Now that chicken sellers are flocking away from antibiotics, advocacy groups have set their sights on another item on Americans’ dinner plates: pork. The Natural Resources Defense Council took the lead in putting pressure on the chicken industry for about three years—and the organization is now mobilizing to do the same with others. The campaign is timely: Late last year, researchers found bacteria on a hog farm in the United States that was resistant to carbapenems, antibiotics known as the “last line of defense.” A resistant strain of E. coli was found in pigs in China, where half the world’s hogs reside, the year before.

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First Drug-Resistant Superbug Detected in U.S. Could Mean the “End of the Road” for Antibiotics – By Elliot Hannon MAY 26 2016 10:27 PM


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Aha! — BENOIT DOPPAGNE/AFP/Getty Images

Before you head off for a nice little family vacation at the beach this weekend, just a quick heads up that researchers announced Thursday that for the first time a drug-resistant E. coli superbug has been detected on American shores. (Gulp.) It was last seen on I-95 tossing cars and trucks left and right with its tentacles. Just kidding, everyone knows superbug tentacles are only strong enough to lift a compact. Have a great trip!

But seriously, a drug-resistant strain of the bacteria, how bad are we talking? Because it certainly sounds bad. “It basically shows us that the end of the road isn’t very far away for antibiotics…” CDC Director Tom Frieden told the Washington PostThursday. I’m going to miss the road. Before you go stock up on hand sanitizer for this post-antibiotic world, here’s more from the Post:

The antibiotic-resistant strain was found last month in the urine of a 49-year-old Pennsylvania woman. Defense Department researchers determined that she carried a strain of E. coli resistant to the antibiotic colistin, according to a studypublished Thursday in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, a publication of the American Society for Microbiology. The authors wrote that the discovery “heralds the emergence of a truly pan-drug resistant bacteria…”

Colistin is the antibiotic of last resort for particularly dangerous types of superbugs… [i]n some instances, these superbugs kill up to 50 percent of patients who become infected. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has called CRE among the country’s most urgent public health threats… Scientists and public health officials have long warned that if the resistant bacteria continue to spread, treatment options could be seriously limited. Routine operations could become deadly. Minor infections could become life-threatening crises. Pneumonia could be more and more difficult to treat…

In November, public health officials worldwide reacted with alarm when Chinese and British researchers reported finding the colistin-resistant strain in pigs, raw pork meat and in a small number of people in China. The deadly strain was later discovered in Europe, Africa, South America and Canada.

“[The CDC has] been urging drug companies to develop new antibiotics, and asking people to make better use of the antibiotics now available so that more superbugs do not evolve,” according to NBC News.

http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2016/05/26/drug_resistant_superbug_detected_in_u_s_could_mean_end_of_the_road_for_antibiotics.html

HOW FACTORY FARMS PLAY CHICKEN WITH ANTIBIOTICS – BY TOM PHILPOTT; MAY/JUNE 2016 ISSUE


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PHOTOGRAPHS BY TRISTAN SPINSKI

The massive metal double doors open and I’m hit with a whoosh of warm air. Inside the hatchery, enormous racks are stacked floor to ceiling with brown eggs. The racks shake every few seconds, jostling the eggs to simulate the conditions created by a hen hovering atop a nest. I can hear the distant sound of chirping, and Bruce Stewart-Brown, Perdue’s vice president for food safety, leads me down a hall to another room. Here, the sound is deafening. Racks are roiling with thousands of adorable yellow chicks looking stunned amid the cracked ruins of their shells. Workers drop the babies into plastic pallets that go onto conveyor belts, where they are inspected for signs of deformity or sickness. The few culls are euthanized, and the birds left in each pallet are plopped on something like a flat colander and gently shaken, forcing their remaining shell debris to fall into a bin below. Now clean and fluffy, the chicks are ready to be stacked into trucks for delivery to nearby farms, where they’ll be raised into America’s favorite meat.

Not long ago, this whole protein assembly line might have been derailed if each egg hadn’t been treated with gentamicin, an antibiotic the World Health Organization lists as “essential” to any health care system, crucial for treating serious human infections like pneumonia, neonatal meningitis, and gangrene. But the eggs at Perdue’s Delmarva chicken production farms have never been touched by the drug.

That’s extremely uncommon in corporate factory farming. Currently, livestock operations burn through about 70 percent of the “medically important” antibiotics used in the nation—the ones people need when an infection strikes. Microbes that have evolved to withstand antibiotics now sicken 2 million Americans each year and kill 23,000 others—more than homicide. Even though public health authorities from the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have long pointed to the meat industry’s reliance on anti­biotics as a major culprit in human resistance to the drugs, the FDA has never reined in their use.

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Setting Fire to Drinking Water (Excerpt from ‘Superbugs’) – Vice News Published on Mar 1, 2016


India is one of the world’s largest producers of antibiotics. The billion-dollar industry helps make affordable drugs for millions of people — but it comes at a steep price.

VICE News travels to Hyderabad, India’s pharma capital, to see how the pollution from pharmaceutical factories is contributing to antibiotic resistance, which makes common illnesses increasingly hard to treat and risks giving rise to the next “superbug.”

In this excerpt, VICE News reporter Neha Shastry speaks to a sheriff of a small village downstream from pharmaceutical factories about how the rise of the industry has effected the waterways.

Read “Antibiotic Resistance Is a Public Health Nightmare — And It’s Not Going to Stop” – http://bit.ly/1TLaIql

Superbugs: The Dark Side of India’s Drug Boom – Vice News Published on Feb 22, 2016


India is one of the world’s largest producers of antibiotics. The billion-dollar industry helps make affordable drugs for millions of people — but it comes at a steep price.

VICE News travels to Hyderabad, India’s pharma capital, to see how the pollution from pharmaceutical factories is contributing to antibiotic resistance, which makes common illnesses increasingly hard to treat and risks giving rise to the next “superbug.”

Watch “India’s Mental Health Crisis” – http://bit.ly/1Vn6ioA

To Fight Growing Threat From Germs, Scientists Try Old-Fashioned Killer – By GAUTAM NAIK Jan. 22, 2016 2:18 p.m. ET


Bacteriophages, little-used for decades in the U.S. and much of Europe, are gaining new attention because of resistance to antibiotics

A scientist scrapes bacteria from a petri dish during an experiment with bacteriophages. Researchers and biotechnology firms are turning back to phages to help curb the dramatic growth of bacterial resistance to antibiotics.

A scientist scrapes bacteria from a petri dish during an experiment with bacteriophages. Researchers and biotechnology firms are turning back to phages to help curb the dramatic growth of bacterial resistance to antibiotics. PHOTO: JEFF CHIU/ASSOCIATED PRESS

NANTES, France—A hospital nurse soaked a bandage in a colorless liquid containing viruses drawn from a toxic sewer in Paris, a well in Mali and a filthy river in India. Then she daubed it gently on an elderly woman’s severely burned back.

“It’s healing,” said Ronan Le Floch, the doctor overseeing the burned woman’s care. The painful wound’s greenish tinge, the telltale sign of a potentially deadly bacterial infection, had vanished.

The liquid treatment was a cocktail of about one billion viruses called bacteriophages, which are the natural-born killers of bacteria. Little known among doctors in the West, phages have been part of the antibacteria arsenal in countries of the former Soviet Union for decades.

Doctors in the U.S. and much of Europe stopped using phages to fight bacteria when penicillin and other antibiotics were introduced in the 1940s. Now, though, Western scientists are turning back to this Stalin-era cure to help curb the dramatic growth of bacterial resistance to antibiotics.

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http://www.wsj.com/articles/to-fight-growing-threat-from-germs-scientists-try-old-fashioned-killer-1453490328