The past several years have seen a number of reports of superbugs: methicillin-resistant the so-called ESKAPE organisms (an acronym for and enterobacter species), and others. For the most part, these organisms owe their superbug status not to enhanced pathogenicity or virulence (although some are capable of causing overwhelming disease in the proper setting) but to their resistance to multiple antimicrobial agents.
The most recent reports of superbugs in the professional and lay literature discuss NDM-1, which stands for New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase and actually refers not to a single bacterial species but to a transmissible genetic element encoding multiple resistance genes that was initially isolated from a strain of klebsiella obtained from a patient who acquired the organism in New Delhi, India. Subsequently, organisms in the Enterobacteriaceae family containing this genetic element (or variants thereof) have been found widely throughout India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh and are now turning up in Britain and, in rapid order, many other countries around the world. The spread of these organisms has prompted widespread concern because some of them are resistant to all antimicrobial agents except the polymyxins.
©2010 Am An Zhang
Do we continue to blame the doctors when animals are given antibiotic to help them grow?
: Der Spiegel 'Bigger Profits than Cocaine Dealers' Germany
"Some veterinarians' profit margins are bigger than those of cocaine dealers," says Nicki Schirm, who has been a veterinarian in the state of
Hesse for more than 25 years. When a veterinarian finds a sick chick among 20,000 other chicks, he treats the discovery as justification to preventively treat the entire flock with antibiotics, says Rupert Ebner, a veterinarian from the Bavarian city of . "Nowadays, flock or herd health monitoring is the code name for the generous administration of drugs," says Ebner. In many cases, he adds, fake diagnoses are used to provide a justification for the use of antibiotics. Ingolstadt
In large veterinary practices, profits from the sale of drugs can account for up to 80 percent of revenues. This is mainly due to the volume discounts offered by the pharmaceutical industry and the sweet privilege known as the right to dispense -- a special provision for the pharmaceutical monopoly. For more than 150 years, veterinarians have been allowed to both prescribe and sell medications -- with almost no supervision whatsoever.
Some 900 tons of antibiotics were fed to animals in
in 2010. This is 116 tons more than in 2005, and more than three times as much as the entire German population takes annually. Pharmaceutical producers were required to report their 2011 sales of veterinary drugs by the end of March. A number of companies did not comply, prompting the Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety to request the information in writing. Germany
According to The
Union of Concerned Scientists:
13(1):69-76.Akwar et al. 2007.
Risk factors for antimicrobial resistance among fecal Escherichia coli from residents on forty-three swine farms.
"Akwar et al. found that people living and working on swine farms where antibiotics were used in feed had increased chances of carrying resistant . In some cases, the risk of resistance for the farm workers was higher than if they had taken antibiotics themselves. Once farm workers are colonized by resistant bacteria they can transfer them to family members and others in their community."
The use of antibiotics in farm animals is widespread and is not restricted to the treatment of infections but for the enhancment of weight gain. In business terms it is the conversion ratio of feed to weight that matters. The Obama government may well be taking steps to control it due to the rising incidents of Hospital Infections. Chicken and other animals can grow up to twice as fast as 30 years ago when antibiotics were not in the feeds. Scary!
It may therefore require more than "washing hands" if we do not want more outbreaks like this and other ones.
First appeared: July 24, 2009