“CDC: Antibiotic Overuse Can Be Lethal” – Wall Street Journal, 4 March 2014

According to a report by the CDC, the overuse of antibiotics used to treat patients is spurring the formation of superbugs. While treatments vary between hospitals, some doctors prescribe their patients three times the amount of antibiotics that doctors in other hospitals prescribe, for comparable diseases.

The constant misuse has rendered many antibiotics ineffective and caused the rapid development of superbugs. Misuse can also make patients susceptible to other infections, like Clostridium difficile, or C. difficile, a bacterial infection.

The CDC’s report gathered information from hospitals and patients from 2010 and 2011. The report projected that reducing antibiotic use by 30% would lower C. difficile infections by 26%. Almost 250,000 patients contract C. difficile in the hospital, which can bring on sepsis and death.

A very powerful antibiotic that is often overused is vancomycin, which is prescribed for MRSA, a strain of Staph infection. In a study, over 20% of patients who were treated with intravenous vancomycin for MRSA never had MRSA.

The government is pushing to half the amount of C. difficile infections in five years. Doing so would prevent 20,000 deaths, 150,000 hospitalizations and cut $2 billion dollars from health-care expenses.

Obama also addressed this situation in his budget proposal for 2015, which contains $30 million to study and pinpoint strains of resistant bacteria, and promote communication between communities about outbreaks and remedies.

April 12, 2014

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“Food-Linked Infections Rose Last Year” – Wall Street Journal, 18 April 2013

Regardless of the transference of antibiotic-resistant genes between humans and animals, humans can still become sick with other contaminants found in livestock, animal byproducts, fruits and vegetables. The number of infections resulting from contaminated food rose by 3% in 2012, much of it due to Vibrio bacteria, which is found in raw oysters and undercooked shellfish. Food-borne illnesses resulting from Campylobacter bacteria — found in poultry, unpasteurized milk, surface water and mountain streams — also increased in 2012.

According to the CDC, 48 million people contract food-related infections per year. After seeing the surge in Vibrio infections, the CDC and FDA are now observing state-run Vibrio-control plans, as well as studying how climate and other environmental factors add to shellfish contamination.

Infections from Campylobacter are second to Salmonella poisoning, which didn’t increase from the CDC’s 2006-08 baseline. Campylobacter infections rose 14% in 2012, from the 2006-08 baseline.

CDC continues to safe guard public health and we applaud their service to our nation.

Conceived, Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

May 7, 2013

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www.fluidmanagementsystem.com     subodh@fluidmanagementsystem.com

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“Antibiotics and the Meat We Eat” – New York Times, 27 March 2013

The agricultural industry’s use of antibiotics in their livestock has been a hot button topic the last few months, and only getting hotter. While the agriculture industry overwhelmingly denies that antibiotic-resistant bacteria can be transferred from livestock to humans, a British-Danish report from last month shows that bacteria does has the ability to move from animals to humans.

As we wrote in a previous post in November, “Farm Use of Antibiotics Defies Scrutiny“, responsibility for regulating antibiotic use is splintered among multiple agencies: the FDA, USDA and CDC. The FDA polices drugs, a role they carry out by overseeing the meat sold in our supermarkets, and by monitoring the existence of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. The FDA is trying to get a handle on the kinds of antibiotics that are being fed to livestock, but to no avail — livestock facilities are not legally required, and are vehemently opposed, to divulge details about what drugs are administered to which animals, and in what amounts.

It seems as this point that the situation could be a matter of life and death. In 2011, the agricultural industry bought almost 30 million pounds of antibiotics — 80% of the US’s 2011 antibiotic sales — for animal use, the biggest quantity ever purchased. The drugs are mostly given to animals at low dosages in order to encourage growth, and to contain any sicknesses they might contract by living in such close quarters of each other and their waste. However, feeding livestock low levels of antibiotics can actually breeds antibiotic-resistant diseases.

In 2008, Congress forced drug companies to report to the FDA the amount of antibiotics they sold to agricultural facilities. Again, no information was released on what drugs were given to which animals, in what amounts and why.

The Senate Committee on Health, Education. Labor and Pensions reauthorized the Animal Drug User Fee Act (ADUFA) for 2013, requiring veterinary-drug companies to pay fees to the FDA as a way to financially support the agency. Two Democrats from the House have introduced new legislation that would give FDA the authority to amass more data from drug companies, as well as make food producers reveal how frequently they give low doses of antibiotics to animals, so as to spur growth and offset poor conditions.

We believe that in order to lower societal costs, and protect animals and humans, open and objective debate needs to continue among all stakeholders.

Conceived, Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

April 29, 2013

Fluid Management Systems

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“Farm Use of Antibiotics Defies Scrutiny” – New York Times, 3 September 2012

Since World War II, the antibiotic has been modern medicine’s savior, allowing doctors to treat and stop the spread of infections. Antibiotics are given to both people and animals; almost 80% of the US’s antibiotics are used to treat chickens, pigs, cows and other livestock that people consume. However, meat manufacturers and farmers are not forced to divulge details about their use of antibiotics – i.e. what drugs are administered in which animals, and in what amounts.

Though antibiotics are used to treat infections, people often suffer from antibiotic-resistant diseases; and many believe that there is a link between these resistant infections and regular antibiotic-use in animals. Meat manufacturers’ and farmers’ lack of documentation is a direct hindrance on identifying this relationship, both of whom maintain that there is no link; but both humans and animals play a part in the escalation of antibiotic-resistant infections.

Unsystematic use of antibiotics is a large problem, causing antibiotics to become less effective in both humans and animals. Meat manufacturers and farmers indiscriminately use antibiotics in order to encourage growth in livestock – some drugs encouraging growth, while others stunting it. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has attempted numerous times to standardize the use of antibiotics in livestock; but it is hard to systematize and regulate antibiotic use in animals because there is nothing comparable to a national system that tracks animal healthcare, as there is for people.

The FDA continues its efforts to restrain drugs that are sold over-the-counter to meat manufacturers and farmers. Recently, the agency recommended banning specific antibiotics that are used to fuel animal growth, while also forcing meat manufacturers and farmers to acquire prescriptions for certain animal antibiotics.

Responsibility for regulating these issues is splintered among multiple agencies, which has become another obstacle. The FDA polices drugs, while the US Department of Agriculture’s scope is agriculture; the Centers for Disease Control also has a part.

Some meat manufacturers and farmers, such as poultry feed mills, keep meticulous records of antibiotic usage, and the FDA has the authority to review these records at anytime. But while the agency has access to these records, the data cannot be gathered to publish. Other data, most of which has been collected on antibiotic-resistant bacteria transmitted in meat, is so small that it is fairly unreliable – no real conjectures can be drawn from such numbers.

There is no way to confirm that meat manufacturers are complying with existing rules on antibiotic usage. In any attempt, regulators have to look for misused or prohibited drugs in meat from slaughterhouses and shopping markets, rather than regulating directly from the source – farms.

Judging from the conflicting viewpoints of consumers who want safer and cheaper meat, and regulators who want to protect public health, what can animal farmers do to satisfy consumers and regulators, while also guarding against rising costs? Perhaps there is a solution in better communication between healthcare providers for animal health and human health, and drug manufacturers and regulators.

Conceived, Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

November 28, 2012

Fluid Management Systems

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