Tag Archives | Antibiotics

Antibiotic Resistance Worse Health Crisis Than AIDS

Antibiotic resistanceLast year the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned of the apocalyptic public health implications of antibiotic-resistant organisms. Now the World Health Organization has issued a statement that it could be worse than the AIDS epidemic, reported via the Telegraph:

A child’s scratched knee from falling off their bike, common bladder infections among the elderly in care homes and routine surgery to replace broken hips could all become fatal as antibiotics are becoming increasingly useless, the World Health Organisation has said.

The crisis is bigger and more urgent than the Aids epidemic of the 1980s, it was warned.

UK experts said the ‘era of safe medicine is coming to an end’ and government funds must be pumped into the production of new drugs.

In the foreword to the report Dr Keiji Fukuda, WHO’s Assistant Director-General for Health Security, wrote: “A post-antibiotic era — in which common infections and minor injuries can kill — far from being an apocalyptic fantasy, is instead a very real possibility for the 21st century.”

He said: “Unless we take significant actions to improve efforts to prevent infections and also change how we produce, prescribe and use antibiotics, the world will lose more and more of these global public health goods and the implications will be devastating.”

He said modern medicine, from the treatment of urinary tract infections and pneumonia in babies to chemotherapy and kidney dialysis are under threat.

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The Unstoppable Rise Of Antibiotic-Resistant Organisms

Antibiotic selectionAlthough doctors and scientists have been warning that the so-called “golden age” of antibiotics is rapidly waning, we just don’t listen and now it may be too late. Fergus Walsh, medical correspondent for BBC News reports:

We cannot say we weren’t warned. The growing threat of antibiotic resistant organisms is once again in the spotlight.

Prof Jeremy Farrar, the new head of Britain’s biggest medical research charity the Wellcome Trust said it was a “truly global issue”.

In his first major interview since taking up his post, Prof Farrar told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme that the golden age of antibiotics could come to an end unless action is taken.

His comments echo those of England’s Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies.

Last year she described the growing resistance to antibiotics as a “ticking time bomb”, and said the danger should be ranked alongside terrorism on a list of threats to the nation.

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When We Lose Antibiotics, Here’s What Else We’ll Lose Too

240px-Staphylococcus_aureus_01Maryn McKenna writes in Wired:

“Post-antibiotic era” is a phrase that gets tossed around a lot these days, most of the time without people stopping to consider what it might really mean. A year ago, I started wondering what life would be like, if we really didn’t have antibiotics any more. I was commissioned and edited by got research support from (editing to make clear that they didn’t give me a grant; they don’t do that) the fantastic Food and Environment Reporting Network, and today Medium publishes our 4,000-word report, “Imagining a Post-Antibiotics Future” — a view from the far side of the antibiotic miracle.

If we really lost antibiotics to advancing drug resistance — and trust me, we’re not far off — here’s what we would lose. Not just the ability to treat infectious disease; that’s obvious.

But also: The ability to treat cancer, and to transplant organs, because doing those successfully relies on suppressing the immune system and willingly making ourselves vulnerable to infection.

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Imagining the Post-Antibiotics Future

Bsubtillis roseoflavinMaryn McKenna says that “After 85 years, antibiotics are growing impotent. So what will medicine, agriculture and everyday life look like if we lose these drugs entirely?”, writing at Food & Environment Reporting Network:

Predictions that we might sacrifice the antibiotic miracle have been around almost as long as the drugs themselves. Battlefield casualties got the first non-experimental doses of penicillin in 1943, quickly saving soldiers who had been close to death. But just two years later, the drug’s discoverer Sir Alexander Fleming warned that its benefit might not last. Accepting the 1945 Nobel Prize in Medicine, he said:

 “It is not difficult to make microbes resistant to penicillin in the laboratory by exposing them to concentrations not sufficient to kill them… There is the danger that the ignorant man may easily underdose himself and by exposing his microbes to non-lethal quantities of the drug make them resistant.”

As a biologist, Fleming knew that evolution was inevitable: sooner or later, bacteria would develop defenses against the compounds the nascent pharmaceutical industry was aiming at them.

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CDC Associate Director: ‘We’ve Reached the End of Antibiotics.”

tumblr_m4xcq5muSp1qzayxbo1_1280Um. Just wash your hands really, really, really well from now on and hope for the best. Seriously, though: Bad news.

Via Raw Story:

In an interview that aired on PBS’s Frontline, an associate director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Arjun Srinivasan, said that “for a long time, there have been newspaper stories and covers of magazines that talked about ‘The end of antibiotics, question mark?’ Well, now I would say you can change the title to ‘The end of antibiotics, period.’”

“We’re in the post-antibiotic era,” he continued. “There are patients for whom we have no therapy, and we are literally in a position of having a patient in a bed who has an infection, something that five years ago even we could have treated, but now we can’t.”

Keep reading.

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CDC Warns ‘We Will Soon Be in a Post-Antibiotic Era’

antibiotic-resistantFor all our technology, will we end up going back to the Dark Ages? Wired Science writes:

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has just published a first-of-its-kind assessment of the threat from antibiotic-resistant organisms, outlining urgent steps that need to be taken.

The agency’s conservative assessment of the problem:

Each year, in the U.S., 2,049,442 illnesses caused by bacteria and fungi that are resistant to at least some classes of antibiotics; Each year, out of those illnesses, 23,000 deaths.

“If we are not careful, we will soon be in a post-antibiotic era,” Dr. Tom Frieden, the CDC’s director, said in a media briefing. “And for some patients and for some microbes, we are already there.”

Out of that matrix, their top three “urgent” threats:

Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae or CRE, a set of ICU germs that are resistant to almost all antibiotics: 600 deaths per year; Antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea, which currently responds to only one drug: 246,000 infections per year; Clostridium difficile, 14,000 deaths.

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The Meat Industry Now Consumes Four-Fifths Of All Antibiotics

Will our taste for flesh be what leads to the creation of super-strains of bacteria impervious to antibiotics? Mother Jones reports:

Last year, the Food and Drug Administration proposed a set of voluntary “guidelines” designed to nudge the meat industry to curb its antibiotics habit. But the meat industry has been merrily gorging away on antibiotics—and churning out meat rife with antibiotic-resistant pathogens.

While human antibiotic use has leveled off at below 8 billion pounds annually, livestock farms have been sucking in more and more of the drugs each year—and consumption reached a record nearly 29.9 billion pounds in 2011. That suggests that meat production might be getting more antibiotic-intensive.  To put it another way, the livestock industry is now consuming nearly four-fifths of the antibiotics used in the US, and its appetite for them is growing.

 

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U.K. Experts Warn Of Possible Antibiotic Apocalypse

Is Rise of the Bacteria a legit doomsday possibility? Via the BBC:

The rise in drug resistant infections is comparable to the threat of global warming, according to the chief medical officer for England. She told a committee of MPs that bacteria were becoming resistant to current drugs and there were few antibiotics to replace them. Going for a routine operation could become deadly due to the threat of infection.

Antibiotics have been one of the greatest success stories in medicine. However, bacteria are a rapidly adapting…MRSA is one of the most feared words in hospitals wards and there are growing reports of resistance in strains of E. coli, tuberculosis and gonorrhea.

The World Health Organization has warned the world is heading for a “post-antibiotic era” unless action is taken. It paints a future in which “many common infections will no longer have a cure and, once again, kill unabated”.

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CDC: Untreatable Gonorrhea Might Be Just Around the Corner

Picture: National Archives and Records Administration (PD)

Via NPR:

There’s disturbing news coming from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: The sexually-transmitted disease Gonorrhea is getting close to being untreatable. There’s only one antibiotic left that works against the disease, and if gonorrhea continues to mutate then it too may become ineffective. That’s right: You could have “the clap” for the rest of your life, and it’s all because of the over-prescription of antibiotics:

“Gonorrhea used to be susceptible to penicillin, ampicillin, tetracycline and doxycycline — very commonly used drugs,” said Jonathan Zenilman, who studies infectious diseases at Johns Hopkins.

But one by one, each of those antibiotics — and almost every new one that has come along since — eventually stopped working. One reason is that the bacterium that causes gonorrhea can mutate quickly to defend itself, Zenilman said.

“If this was a person, this person would be incredibly creative,” he said.

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Vast Majority of Americans Want Meat Raised Without Antibiotics

Consumer Reports has created a campaign, Meat Without Drugs, and a promo video narrated by Bill Paxton and directed by Robbie Kenner (Food, Inc. and the disinformation doc When Strangers Click):

We typically don’t like to regurgitate press releases, but the following statistics from Consumer Reports show Americans to be so overwhelmingly in favor of eliminating the use of antibiotics in factory food animals that it seemed worth sharing:

A majority of Americans want meat raised without antibiotics to be sold in their local supermarket, according to a new national poll conducted by Consumer Reports. The poll is part of a report released today, “Meat On Drugs: The Overuse of Antibiotics in Food Animals and What Supermarkets and Consumers Can Do to Stop It,” available online at www.ConsumerReports.org.

Consumers Union, the public policy and advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, has simultaneously launched a new marketplace campaign, urging supermarkets to sell only meat raised without antibiotics─starting with Trader Joe’s, one of the leading national chains best poised to make this commitment.

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