Antibiotic Resistant Disease SuperBug Killing Both Humans and Animals

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria Extended Spectrum Beta Lactamase also know as (ESBL) is killing both people and swine in Denmark. This bacteria has been implicated in the deaths of a number of cancer and liver disease patients. The number of infected patients jumped to over 50 percent this last year.

Health officials have said the bacteria is being transmitted to humans through pigs. Also the increased use of antibiotics in agriculture may be behind the spread of the resistant strain. So what exactly is Extended-Spectrum Beta-Lactamases ESBL? It is actually enzymes produced by certain types of bacteria, which renders the bacteria resistant to the antibiotics commonly used to treat them.

ESBL were first discovered around the mid 1980s. At that time they were mostly found in the Klebsiella species of bacteria, were found in hospital intensive care rooms. Until recently, few people were affected by this bacteria and it didn’t appear to be a major growing concern until now.

According to the British Health Protection Agency, a new class of (ESBL) which is known as CTX-M enzymes has emerged, which are now being widely detected among E.Coli bacteria. These ESBL producing E. Coli are resistant to penicillins and cephalosporins, and are fast becoming more frequent in urinary tract infections.

Other kinds of bacteria that can now produce ESBL include:

K. pneumoniae
K. oxytoca
Proteus mirabilis
Pseudomonas aeruginosa
And the Problem is much Worse Than You might think!

According to a new study published October of 2007 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, there was close to 100,000 new cases of invasive methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus superbug infections in the United States in 2005, which lead to more than 18,600 deaths. To put that number into perspective for you, HIV/AIDS killed 17,000 people that year.

Antibiotic resistant disease IS a major man-made problem in the United States. This was the study that propelled MRSA into the news last year, combined with school outbreaks that took place around the same time. Discussions focused largely on reducing medical over-use of antibiotics, and the use of proper hygiene such as washing your hands with soap and water to reduce the spread of this infectious disease.

But the problem is little has been said about the rampant over use of antibiotics and steroids in agriculture, which is a MAJOR source of human antibiotic and steriod consumption, and hence the increased antibiotic resistance superbug.

Agriculture as a Source of Antibiotic Resistance Both MRSA and ESBL are being traced back to animals raised for food production like Beef and poultry, and especially pigs.

These animals are often fed antibiotics and steriods at low doses for disease prevention and growth promotion. Animals receiving antibiotics and steriods in their feed gain 4 to 5 percent more body weight than animals that do not receive antibiotics and steroids, however the price is high for you and me, the end consumer, because this practice also creates the perfect conditions for antibiotic resistance to flourish.

Denmark’s health officials claim they’re unsure of how farmers and veterinarians, who have not consumed infected meat, are becoming infected. However, according to research cited on Johns Hopkins website, the main reservoir of these organisms is in the lower digestive tract, and they can persist within the gastrointestinal tract for months. So perhaps the answer doesn’t have to be that complicated.

So, the meat industry’s practice of using antibiotics and steriods is indeed a driving force behind the development of antibiotic resistance in a now wide variety of bacteria that is the cause of human disease. The long stalemate on this issue constitutes a struggle, between strong science, and very bad politics.

The FDA has finally banned the use of fluoroquinolones a widely used class of antimicrobials from agricultural use August 1997, but not without the Bayer Corporation kicking and screaming in opposition. After all, antibiotics and steroids for livestock use is big business for there bottom lines. It constitutes about 70 percent of ALL antibiotic use! They couldn’t replace that market with human consumers even if they tried.

Other Agricultural Sources of Antibiotics

Another heavily tainted meat product you should stay away from is conventionally raised chicken or poultry. A 2006 study published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases found that bacteria from conventional chicken and people who ate the chicken became resistant to Synercid, a strong antibiotic used to treat antibiotic-resistant bacteria. In essence, it can cause resistance to the last lines of your defense currently available in the modern medicine cabinet.

And it also found that it was rare to find resistant bacteria among antibiotic and steroid free chicken, while the majority of bacterial isolates from conventional poultry were resistant.

But wait, the ramifications of using antibiotics in agriculture doesn’t end there. Antibiotics filter down through the food chain in sometimes non-suspecting ways. Antibiotics are also being transferred, through manure, into your food supply.

A 2007 study in the Journal of Environmental Quality looked at whether food crops will accumulate antibiotics from soil covered with antibiotic-containing manure. In a greenhouse setting, corn, lettuce and potatoes were grown on soil that contained hog manure with a commonly used veterinary antibiotic and steroid added.

These antibiotics were absorbed by all three crops, into both their leaves and tissue. Meanwhile, the antibiotics also transferred to the potato tubers, suggesting that root crops like carrots, radishes and potatoes may be particularly at risk of antibiotic accumulation.

These findings unfortunately also have implications for organic farmers, who often use manure as their main source of fertilizer. And, as it stands, manure that contains antibiotics is still allowed under the organic label. So how do you Avoid Excessive Antibiotic Exposure? Well to start you ensure that the food you feed to yourself and your family is pure, Natural and healthy.

You can start by growing it yourself if you have the land to do so. But your best option is to get to know a local farmer near you one who uses non-toxic farming methods. If you live in an urban area, there are increasing numbers of community supported agriculture programs available that give you access to healthy, locally grown natural foods even if you live in the heart of the city.

If you are looking for a safer alternative to commercially raised beef please be sure to check out grass-fed beef or Laura’s lean beef. Grass-fed cattle are not routinely fed antibiotics or steroids. They may occasionally receive them for an infection, but that would be the rare exception, and even then they are only used for a few days.

One point to Remember Natural” is best, organic is superior; but you also need to learn how to naturally undo the negative effects already suffered you and your family.

John Seeley is free lance writer Who writes about health, the environment and development, issues he cares deeply about. For specific tips, old and new, to help women and men meet the current perception of our societal definition of beauty and masculinity. Visit

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