“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

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

www.fluidmanagementsystem.com     subodh@fluidmanagementsystem.com

Social Share Toolbar

“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

Social Share Toolbar

“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

Social Share Toolbar

“Conference to Examine Transformative Effect of Innovation and Technology on Human-Animal Health and Mutual Bond” – Market Watch, 20 March 2013

Several times over the past few months, we have written about the need for a cooperative relationship between the human and animal health sectors, and something is finally being done. The first national conference, “Transforming Human-Animal Health and the Human-Animal Bond through Technology and Innovation”, will be held by the American Humane Association next month in New York, concentrating on the “impact of innovation and technology and their crossover applications for human and animal health.” Specifically, America’s leaders in science, medicine, philanthropy and business will discuss how research can be used to expedite advances in human and animal health, especially through new devices and technology.

The conference will deliberate on “precision-driven, predictive, personalized, preventive, and participatory healthcare” for animals and humans through the utilization of mobile technology. Researchers from both human and animal health fields will come together to analyze evidence of health and disease in our 60,000+ vertebrates species, which will increase and solidify connections and discoveries between human and animal health. Though the agriculture industry vehemently denies any link between animal and human health, several researchers in China found that it is only a question of when diseases and antibiotic resistance will travel from animals to humans.

Technology will also be a great benefit to the conference: technology and crowd sourcing can aid scientists and researchers in identifying health trends and environmental risk factors, allowing for the development of new, personalized medicines for humans and animals alike.

This a very positive move to engage animal and human health practitioners, drug manufactures, regulators, consumer advocates and activists in listening, talking  and  collaborating. Aided by explosive technology growth worldwide, these much needed and overdue activities and dialogue will eventually lead to better health and environment for both animals and humans at minimal societal costs.

See also:
Antimicrobial Use and Resistance — NIAA Symposium White Paper Released
Farm Use of Antibiotics Defies Scrutiny

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

March 21, 2013

Fluid Management Systems

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

www.fluidmanagementsystem.com     subodh@fluidmanagementsystem.com

Social Share Toolbar

“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

Social Share Toolbar

“Oral Fluids for Disease Detection Gaining in Popularity” – National Hog Farmer, 4 February 2013

Typically, samples of tissue, blood, feces, and serum are used for most diagnostic tests; however, in the last few years, oral fluids have been used to identify particular pathogens in pigs.

The Iowa State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (ISUVDL) has been using oral fluids from pigs to detect the swine flu virus, among other viruses, and to classify both North American and European strains. Positive results from oral fluids are used as an indicator that such pathogens are present in a group of pigs, rather than disease diagnosis. Sampling oral fluids have become a preferred method for detecting swine flu, as oral fluids are a more sensitive and economical approach over serum sampling, as well as a more animal-friendly system.

Swine influenza virus A (SIV) is widely present in pigs of all ages; but SIV shedding (the infectious period) can be brief, usually taking only 2-3 days. Rather than nasal swabs or tissues, oral fluids have become a better means of identifying pigs that are currently shedding SIV.

ISUVDL has found that idenfitying other viruses using oral fluids, such as porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS), can be better developed by:

1. Attention to details in collecting oral fluids to minimize amounts of feces or feed in the samples;

2. Immediate chilling of the oral fluid sample at collection and maintaining the “cold chain” through the entire submission process; and

3. Choosing samples with the highest concentration of virus for sequencing. Currently, data from the ISUVDL suggests that sequencing success from serum and oral fluids is fairly similar if starting concentration is similar.

Though these particulars have shown a higher success rate in detecting PRRS, they also help in the detection of SIV.

Such developments are very important: healthy animals lower the cost and safety of meat proteins for the ever-growing, -demanding and health-conscious human consumer.

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

February 11, 2013

Fluid Management Systems

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

www.fluidmanagementsystem.com     subodh@fluidmanagementsystem.com

Social Share Toolbar

“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

Copyright 2012   All rights Reserved by Fluid Management Systems, Inc.

www.fluidmanagementsystem.com     subodh@fluidmanagementsystem.com

Social Share Toolbar

“Pig Farmers Face Pressure on the Size of the Sty” — New York Times, 5 October 2012

Across the US, hog farms have developed a practice of separating their sows into gestation crates. Before, sows were normally kept in pens; but due to their aggressiveness, hog farmers now separate sows. While gestation crates have kept the price of pork fairly low for consumers, the crates are barely bigger than the pigs themselves. Pork buyers and animal rights groups have deemed gestation crates cruel, and are pressuring hog farmers to move sows back into group housing.

Several large companies, including Dunkin’ Donuts, ConAgra Food, McDonalds and Brinker International (owner of Chili’s) have publicized that they will no longer purchase pork that is produced from farms that use gestation crates. The number of fast-food companies and food retailers that have also made this same pledge is currently at 32; and the Humane Society of the US is having a field day.

Hog farmers aren’t sharing in the Humane Society’s revelry: moving sows back into pens could prove to be expensive for the farmers, and could result in elevated pork prices for consumers.

The Humane Society’s stance that gestation creates are inhumane has swayed some pork processing companies to rectify their facilities. Cargill, the US’s third-largest pork processor, moved to group housing about 10 years ago; Smithfield Foods shifted to pens in 2011. However, Tyson Foods and JBS, two huge pork processors, refuse to make the move.

Gestations crates continually prove to be a positive for hog farmers. In crates, feed can be individually modified; and by limiting movement, defecation can be controlled, and can be kept out of the pig’s food and water. Crates also allow for easier and safer medical treatment; less aggressiveness; and increased work safety. Gestation crates are more cost-effective, and allow for pigs to birth more piglets.

Hog farmers, who have taken steps to improve conditions for pigs, have done so at great costs. Building rates of new barns with pens can be expensive – operational costs are also amplified because more labor is required to manage sow relations. Medical care is more costly, and no ideal feeding system has been identified.

Under these same circumstances, hog farmers in Britain didn’t fair very well. In 1991, the British government forced hog farmers to move their sows to group housing by 1999. Pork prices rose and consumers were reluctant to pay, instead buying low-cost Dutch and Danish pork, which ultimately ruined British farmers.

Now, countries in the European Union that produce pork, such as Denmark and the Netherlands, have been ordered to move their sows into pens by 2013. Latin American, Chinese and Russian hog farmers stand to gain – since they aren’t required to move their sows, they can sell their pork for cheaper rates on the European market.

The current state of the European pork industry could be a cautionary tale for American consumers and the American pork industry alike. Right now, many American hog farmers are making the move from gestation crates to pens. The question to answer: will the farmers see the economic rewards from this move?

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

November 5, 2012

Fluid Management Systems

Copyright 2012   All rights Reserved by Fluid Management Systems, Inc.

www.fluidmanagementsystem.com     subodh@fluidmanagementsystem.com

Social Share Toolbar

An Introductory to Fluid Management Systems

Founded in 2010, Fluid Management Systems, Inc. (FMS) is a high tech company based in Lexington, Kentucky. FMS has developed a patent-pending system for accurately managing liquid injectable medication inventory, called FMS SMARTray™. The heart of this system is a low-cost and highly accurate method for determining liquid levels inside several small to large enclosed vials/bottles, both simultaneously and instantaneously. Using our methods, we can track medication from the time it is ordered, to when it is delivered to a patient and added to their medical record, ending when a new order is placed; from there, the chain begins again.

The FMS SMARTray™ was envisioned as a system for tracking injectable antibiotics and vaccines administered on farms, and in veterinarians’ offices. FMS has chosen swine and cattle farms as the first market to serve.

However, in both human and animal pharmaceutical markets, liquid medications are provided in multi-dose vials. Currently, the management of vial inventories is manual, which is problematic: vial inventories are not directly tied to Electronic Medical Record supply chain systems. With its digitized system, the FMS SMARTray™ resolves this issue.

Through radio-frequency technology, our system is able to measure the amount of remaining fluid in a sealed container, while being non-invasive – medication vials are always sealed and sterile. Our system then maintains a database of important information about each medication vial. The motivation for our system is to control and monitor liquid medication usage; reduce waste; and automate the inventory and supply chain process – resulting in the elimination of all manual processes.

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

October 26th, 2012

Fluid Management Systems

Copyright 2012   All rights Reserved by Fluid Management Systems, Inc.

www.fluidmanagementsystem.com     subodh@fluidmanagementsystem.com

Social Share Toolbar