“Study Shows Bacteria Moves From Animals to Humans” – New York Times, 27 March 2013

A new study by Britain and Denmark shows that bacteria does indeed move from animals to humans, a claim constantly denied by the agriculture and food industries.

The British and Danish researchers pooled their data from two small Danish farms, and through genetic sequencing, determined that a strain of antibiotic-resistant bacteria was capable of being transmitted from animals to humans. The new report clearly shows the affect and risk that antibiotics have on both livestock and humans alike; this research is, without a doubt, the first of its kind to show a direct connection between animals and humans.

We’ve written and reported on this topic numerous times, as the link between human and animal health becomes a bigger global issue. This month, the American Humane Association is holding their first human-animal health conference in New York, which will focus on the “impact of innovation and technology and their crossover applications for human and animal health.” This is a step in the right direction for everyone involved in human and animal health sectors — consumers, scientists, veterinarians, doctors, hospitals, clinics, animal feeding operations, farmers, drug manufactures, and state, federal and international regulatory agencies  — to identify what can be done to objectively understated and improve the relationship between the human and animal health sectors.

See our previous blogs on this subject also:
Dead Pigs Worry Shanghai
Conference to Examine Transformative Effect of Innovation on Human-Animal Health
Antimicrobial Use and Resistance — NIAA Symposium White Paper Released
Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Surround Big Swine Farms in China & US
Farm Use of Antibiotics Defies Scrutiny

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

April 2, 2013

Fluid Management Systems

Copyright 2013   All rights Reserved by Fluid Management Systems, Inc.

www.fluidmanagementsystem.com     subodh@fluidmanagementsystem.com

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“Dead Pigs Worry Shanghai” – Wall Street Journal, 12 March 2013

Earlier this month, 3,300 dead pigs were found dead in the Huangpu River, which supplies water to most of Shanghai’s 23 million residents. Chinese authorities have no idea how the pigs died.

Government officials investigated any impact the pigs would have on the river and other local waters, announcing that no health threat in the water existed. However, authorities found the pig-borne disease porcine circovirus in the river, which according to the US CDC, does not affect humans. China’s main meat is pork, which consists of almost half a billion pigs, and the country littered with swine farms that are rife with communicable diseases. An industry expert noted that the dead pigs might be indicative of a disease outbreak from a single farm.

China has had its fair share of pig illnesses. In 2007, around 50 million pigs died from an outbreak of high-fever blue ear disease; and this past January, 948 Chinese pigs had to be killed due to an outbreak of foot and mouth disease.

Additionally, Chinese waterways have been exposed to much pollution. Again this past January, a chemical transporter spewed benzene into a Huangpu River tributary, which caused 20 people to be hospitalized. Earlier this year, Rivers in three northern provinces were also affected due to a chemical spill.

The chemical spills, as well as the mass deaths, are also calling Chinese food safety, environmental and air quality regulations into question. In 2011, China claimed the number one spot as the world’s biggest carbon dioxide polluter, up by 10 percent to contribute 10 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions to the world’s atmosphere. It is no wonder that China’s air quality caused its residents to become sick, and persuaded many to wear face masks.

In our view, the land where humans and animals live, the water we drink, and the air we breathe constitute environmental quality, and all eventually contribute towards human and animal health and safety. We live in an interconnected global ecosystem that we need to keep clean and safe. China — now the largest country in the world — continues to grow its economy in order to achieve a more western lifestyle, and population, which is currently at 1.3 billion people or one-seventh of the world’s population. China will have to strike a healthy balance between economic growth and environmental harmony that many western economies are already addressing.

See also:
Carbon Pollution up to 2 Million Pounds a Second
Conference to Examine Transformative Effect of Innovation on Human-Animal Health
Antimicrobial Use and Resistance — NIAA Symposium White Paper Released
Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Surround Big Swine Farms in China & US

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

March 28, 2013

Fluid Management Systems

Copyright 2013   All rights Reserved by Fluid Management Systems, Inc.

www.fluidmanagementsystem.com     subodh@fluidmanagementsystem.com

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Antimicrobial Use and Resistance — NIAA Symposium White Paper Released

The National Institute for Animal Agriculture (NIAA), an organization geared towards developing resolutions in different areas of the animal agriculture industry, recently released a White Paper, “A One Health Approach to Antimicrobial Use & Resistance: A Dialogue for a Common Purpose“. The White Paper addresses antimicrobial use and resistance, and begins to explore methods to resolve these topics. The paper is a summary of presentations from 13 human health, animal health and environmental health scientists and professionals, and the outcome of four interactive sessions with those who attended the 2012 Antibiotics Conference in Columbus, OH.

The topic of NIAA’s paper is much similar to our recent blog post, Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Surround Big Swine Farms in China & US, in which researchers found that the process of resistance genes grouping and moving to other bacteria has greatly developed by the burgeoning use of antibiotics and metals on farms.

Like the researchers from our previous post, NIAA’s paper has similar reasoning for antimicrobial resistance, “Antimicrobial resistance occurs via three mechanisms, each requiring only minor changes in biochemistry: 1) Bacteria may possess enzymes that degrade antibiotics; 2) Bacteria may replace or alter the method through which the antibiotic enters the cell; and 3) Bacteria may alter the cellular target site of the antibiotic.” In a similar vein, the researchers pulled samples from swine farms in China and the US and found the presence of transposase, an enzyme that allows resistant genes to move from one bacterium to the next.

In fact, the issue of animal antibiotics is, as the White Paper puts it, a polarizing issue. The paper admits that antimicrobial resistance is about more than science and evidence, but also directly deals with politics, behavior, economics and conflicting opinions in the overarching health — animal, human and environmental — community.

In another previous blog post, Farm Use of Antibiotics Defies Scrutiny, we discussed how cooperation and communication between manufacturers and regulatory agencies is inadequate. While the FDA has attempted numerous times to standardize the use of antibiotics in livestock, it has proved problematic, as many meat manufacturers and farmers are unwilling to disclose antibiotic use. However, the relationship between the FDA and manufacturers isn’t purely to blame: it is hard to streamline antibiotic use in animals since there is nothing comparable to a national healthcare system for animals, as there is for people. What can be gleaned from these difficulties is that antibiotic use, and subsequent antimicrobial resistance, is indeed a political, behavioral, economic and combative issue.

Because the NIAA believes that animal, human and environmental health are all connected, the White Paper takes a One Health Approach: “This approach would call for all to think in a much larger dimension and work toward, improving and defending the health and well-being of all species by enhancing cooperation and collaboration between physicians, veterinarians, other scientific health and environmental professionals, and by promoting strengths in leadership and management to achieve these goals.”

The goal of the “A One Health Approach to Antimicrobial Use & Resistance: A Dialogue for a Common Purpose” Symposium was not to only understand and study the reasoning behind antimicrobial use and resistance, but to identify ways in which scientists and professional can work together and progress. The symposium had many end goals, including:

  1. To obtain the scientific facts regarding antibiotic use within animal health, human health and environmental health;
  2. to better understand the “how” and “why” antimicrobial resistance occurs;
  3. to look at alternatives to antibiotics in agriculture;
  4. lead and engage participants in open conversations;
  5. to build relationships with other sectors and gain better understanding of other perspectives;
  6. to begin to find common ground and formulate a path forward; and
  7. focus on continuous improvement and commitment to long-term health.

This white paper initiates a launching pad for data-based scientific and objective conversation, and debate among drug manufactures; human and animal health care providers; hospitals and animal feeding operations; health insurance industry, federal and state regulators; legislators and policy makers; and interest and advocacy groups. These conversations will lead towards protecting human and animal health at the lowest cost to society.

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

February 25, 2013

Fluid Management Systems

Copyright 2013   All rights Reserved by Fluid Management Systems, Inc.

www.fluidmanagementsystem.com     subodh@fluidmanagementsystem.com

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“Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Surround Big Swine Farms in China & US” – Wired, 12 February 2013

Not only does the US partake is large-scale confinement agriculture — or livestock-raising — but, as wealth and populations grow, developing countries like China and India do as well. The use of growth-promotor antibiotics began in the US and has spread to China, the world’s biggest producer and consumer of antibiotics. Half of the antibiotics China makes in-house are used in the country’s agriculture: a staggering 96 million kilograms, which is almost seven times more than the US uses every year. China’s food safety regulation is falling by the wayside, as the industry is pressurized to manufacture heaping quantities of meat and make heaping quantities of money.

In both China and the US, no regulations exist for reporting which agricultural antibiotics go into what species, and no systematized method exists to track side effects. Chinese researchers, seeing a problem, published a paper this week that addressed these issues, “Diverse and abundant antibiotic resistance genes in Chinese swine farms”.

The team visited three farms — big by Chinese standards, and from three different regions in China — to gather research for this paper. Each farm raises around 10,000 pigs every year, which, by EPA‘s definition, is on the small side of large “confined animal feeding operations.” The researchers sampled fresh pig manure from each farm: as the manure was being made into fertilizer, and from farm soil where the fertilizer had already been used. Their controls were samples of soil from a virgin forest in China, and manure from American pigs that had never taken antibiotics.

American researchers analyzed the samples to look for any antibiotic-resistant genes. The researchers detected 149 unique resistance genes, existing 192 to 28,000 times more frequently in the Chinese farm samples than in the control samples. A similar presence of transposase was found as well, an enzyme that allows resistant genes to move from one bacterium to the next.

The researchers found that the process of resistance genes grouping and moving to other bateria has greatly developed by the use of metals like zinc, copper and arsenic on farms. Additionally, resistance can be present on farms where antibiotics have never been used, even where evolutionary practices on bacteria and genes haven’t been employed.

According to the researchers’ paper, “The diversity and abundance of antibiotic resistance genes reported in this study is alarming, and clearly indicates that unmonitored use of antibiotics and metals on swine farms has expanded the diversity and abundance of the antibiotic resistance reservoir in the farm environment. The coenrichment of ARGs and transposases [enzymes] further exacerbates the risks of transfer of ARGs from livestock animals to human-associated bacteria, and then spread among human populations.”

The agriculture industry has been refuting this argument for years: if, when antibiotic resistance develops on farms, it will transfer from farms to people with no link to the farms. While the agriculture industry says no, the Chinese researchers think it’s just a question of when. As the concentration of antibiotic resistance grows, so too does the probability that it will move into the environment outside the farms.

As in any credible scientific investigations affecting animal and human health, data-based-driven debates must go on until all key stakeholders agree on a cost-effective, practical  and sustainable course of action.

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

February 15, 2013

Fluid Management Systems

Copyright 2013   All rights Reserved by Fluid Management Systems, Inc.

www.fluidmanagementsystem.com     subodh@fluidmanagementsystem.com

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