Thursday, September 19, 2013
Are We Medicating Ourselves to Death?
A report from the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) wades into the tens of thousands of lives claimed in America each year from overuse of antibiotics.
Each year in the United States, at least 2 million people become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics and at least 23,000 people die each year as a direct result of these infections. Many more people die from other conditions that were complicated by an antibiotic-resistant infection.
Antibiotic-resistant infections can happen anywhere. Data show that most happen in the general community; however, most deaths related to antibiotic resistance happen in healthcare settings such as hospitals and nursing homes.
It has long been standard practice to heavily medicate livestock to keep them alive until they can be slaughtered and processed. 77% of antibiotics used in the United States goes to treat livestock. This bolsters the industrial producers' bottom line but at what cost? The big cost, the one that's going to become increasingly dangerous, is the evolution of drug-resistant strains of bacteria.
The CDC warns the problem is poised to get much worse and it recommends four basic strategies - 1. preventing infections from occurring and preventing the spread of disease-resistant bacteria; 2. tracing resistant bacteria; 3. improving the use of antibiotics; and, 4. promoting the development of new antibiotics and new diagnostic tests for resistant bacteria.
Unfortunately the CDC doesn't resolve the problem of feedlot production. The greater the number of animals massed in a confined space the greater the chance that some of them will be diseased and the greater the chance that those diseased animals will be able to pass their contagion to the other animals with which they're in such close confinement.