2974 views 8 commentslast update:6 Aug 2012

Antibiotics lead us into death

Dick Ziggers
More people in hospitals become infected with resistant bacteria that doctors cannot treat with antibiotics. In Europe it is estimated that 25,000 people die because of this. Some of the bacteria also occur in the livestock industry, such as MRSA and ESBL. Because of a long and intensive use of antibiotics in animal husbandry these bacteria have become resistant to most antibiotics used in hospitals. Healthy people won't die of these killer bugs, but to people with a strongly reduced general resistance, such as cancer patients, they can be lethal.

MRSA (Methicilline resistant Staphylocossus aureus) develops on pig farms and with transports of piglets and finishers the bacteria have spread rapidly. About 40% of the pig farmers in the Netherlands carry MRSA-bacteria and if they have to go to hospital they have to be cared for separately and quarantined.
 
ESBL (Extended Spectrum Beta-Lactamase) develops on poultry farms and spreads through the food chain. In certain countries up to 90% of poultry in supermarkets is infected. The number of antibiotics working against ESBL is limited.
 
In most countries the situation is still manageable, but has already become critical in Greece and Turkey where it is almost impossible to treat infected patients with antibiotics that work. In Greece a MRSA-type has emerged that is resistant to all antibiotics. The situation is also critical because no new antibiotics are to be expected in the short term.
 
In order to avoid this horror scenario for other countries, antibiotic use in the livestock industry has to be minimised. This is possible with vaccinations against diseases, better feed and better housing. It will lead to decreased growth rate of animals and possibly to fewer farms, because some are too infected to continue.
 
In some regions of the world the mental change -- from using only antibiotics to alternative means of treatment and from curing to preventing disease or even an antibiotic free livestock industry -- has taken place and is accepted in the heads of people working in the food chain. In some other places, such as the USA and Eastern Europe, this different way of thinking has not yet taken place. The industry is still in the denial phase and keeps on emphasising the disadvantages of withdrawal of antibiotics instead of looking for opportunities of a new disease management system.
 
As a consequence our chicken filet and pork chop may become a little bit more expensive. I have no problem with that if it ensures me of a risk-free hospital use when necessary and ensures a healthy (health-wise and economically) living for farmers.
 
It is still not too late, but it is up to governments in cooperation with the feed and food chain to resist the lobby of animal drug companies and make a clear move in reducing antibiotic use in livestock - for a healthier future.
 
With this I want to wish you a prosperous and healthy 2012.

For a bit more clarity also read: Debate on resitant bacteria confuses consumers

 

8 comments

  • no-profile-image

    Elinor

    If we truly wish to address the problem of antibiotic resistance we also need to get serious about controlling overuse and misuse in people.

  • no-profile-image

    Harry van Poppel

    Even resistant bacteria as MRSA and ESBL will be killed by Chlorine Dioxide, which is a powerful disinfectant and already used in hospitals as well in slaughteries and meatprocessing plants in the USA very successfully.
    Further the product is known as a disinfectant for healthy drinking water for people and animals, effective against bacteria, protozoa, viruses, alage, fungi, yeast etc. and no building-up of resistance in microorganisms.
    The product "AppOx" (brandname of a Chlorine Dioxide product in USA) has been used as a Biocide and Antimicrobal for replacing other growthpromotors such as antibiotics very succefully in dairies for preventing Bovine Mastitis, while in poultry and swine husbandery the product resulted in reduced disease risks, lower till none E-coli infections, less mortality, less morbidity, improved feed conversion, improved production of milk, meat and eggs.

  • no-profile-image

    David Burch

    I do endorse Elinor's comment. In addition, the primary selectors of MRSA (Staphylococcus by the way) and ESBL producing bacteria carrying the blaCTX-M genes are the third generation cephalosporins and these antibiotics are administered by injection not in feed as you suggest.These are prescription only medicines (POM-V) under veterinary control in the EU and therefore efforts should be made to encourage vets to use them responsibly as drugs of last resort and not as frontline prophylactic therapy in pigs and chicks and lameness therapy in dairy cows.

  • no-profile-image

    David Nash

    Your attribution of resistance transfer from animals to humans, although convenient to your headline and premise, largely unproven. Alarmist rhetoric contributes nothing positive to dealing with legitimate concerns and issues that are trivialized by the attempt to reduce them to sound bites.

  • no-profile-image

    Hossan Md. Salim

    It is already proven that the use of antibiotic as growth promoters in feeds lead to antibiotic resistance. So, this practise should be ban in all countries in the globe otherwise the resistant gene can trasmit from one country to another. Side by side the use of antibiotic for the treatment of animal and human should be restricted and monitored by the government intensively. Hopefully, by ensuring these practise, we can make a good planet and friendly environment for the present and future generation.

  • no-profile-image

    Ramon C. Soriano

    I am very sorry to read so, opinions like this article are lethal for an industry that shows deep signs of crisis.
    Just a question: How can we prove the only to blame in the increase of resistances in humans are the animal medications?
    or in other words, can you prove self medication in humans is less harmful for humans than animal medication?

    When those questions are 100% answered then i will buy the idea, in the meantime i do not believe it, so simple.
    And, like your article, this is my opinion.

  • no-profile-image

    Roberto Bajenting

    Should antibiotics use in livestock especially piggery results in human sickness & ultimate death, we from the Cebu Coalition for Food Security are happy healthy and still alive because we raised our weaners for fatteners without a drop of antibiotics and so-called "chemopeutics" from day 1 to harvest.We are applying pre & pro-biotics in line with our agenda to have food security in terms of natural organic protocols which we have read & learned from the volumes of literature on the theory, principles and practices of natural farming 'science & technology.' Ok if with the use of antibiotics, it would not result to human sickness and death, well and good - good if you do and still good if you dont. But some doctors tell us - an ounce of prevention is better than an ounce of cure. Let me invite you to Cebu City as Chair of CCFS; my celfone: 09156423366; 09286534081 and will bring you to our network to validate my contention.Pit Senyor & happy blissful Sto, Nino fiesta.

  • no-profile-image

    Roberto Bajenting

    It is understandable that big/large livestock pigfarms with 500 - 1000 sows or more need to follow the 'conventional' business of breeding,raising/fattening of hogs. They cannot depart from using chemicals, antibiotic vetmeds, etc. But some consumers are now concern on the issue of food security done by way of industrial production methods and processes.Business has to protect its interest, recover its cost of production - bottomline is the socalled ROI.Consumers group now, especially the sector concerned with the impact of global warming/climate change if presented with the choice of eating food, meat from piggery, most will prefer to eat those without antibiotics, no chemicals; safe, wholesome and good food. It's simply going back to basics: less ecological footprint, small scale, backyard, household livelihood projects. Not just Food Always In the Home but having Family Farming Food as industry in the home.Can big business provide this scenario?

Load more comments (4)

Or register to be able to comment.