Posts tagged: superbugs

Food For Thought: Antibiotic Resistance Generated in Food Production

The expression “food for thought” is often used proverbially more than literally, although results from FDA reports make it necessary to consider how our food and livestock are processed and put serious thought into the food we eat. To make the case immediately apparent, consider that four fifths of all antibiotic consumption in the USA is not human consumption; it’s consumed by farm animals. To quantify this statement, in 2011, 7.7 million pounds of antibiotics were consumed by American people, while 29.9 million pounds went into meat and poultry production.

Ondine

Antibiotics Sold to Livestock Industry vs. Sold for Human Consumption.

The proportion of antibiotics fed to livestock is not a recent issue, it has been growing and the problems that arise from it have accumulated for over 50 years. An alarming development of bacteria that had grown drug resistant due to antibiotics in the livestock industry is MRSA (short for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) which is a persistent threat to human health. Estimates indicate that MRSA kills 19,000 Americans each year, hospitalizes 370,000, and results in billions of dollars of additional health care spending. The intent of these statistics is not to frighten, but to raise awareness concerning administering millions of pounds of antibiotics annually to artificially boost animal growth. Maryn McKenna wrote a book chronicling the rise and danger of these superbugs (http://superbugthebook.com/).

What is important to note is that a vast majority of the provided antibiotics is not to target infections or better animal health. It is administered at a herd or flock wide basis through the animals water source or feed to promote growth and weight gain, as well as to preventatively help livestock survive harsh farm and living conditions. This is one reason why antibiotics are used, another is for therapy. Therapy is used when farm animals exhibit clinical diseases, and drugs can be an effective way to prevent catastrophic health risks that could be detrimental to the agricultural sector.

Administering antibiotics to animals is not an inherently bad thing to do, although it can become detrimental if done without caution and concern. The FDA’s report on the application of antimicrobial drugs in industry warns that “the development of resistance to this important class of drugs, and the resulting loss of their effectiveness as antimicrobial therapies, poses a serious public health threat”. In this article, the main point is not to suggest entirely eliminating antibiotic consumption in the livestock industry, but to manage it judiciously by targeting specific diseases. Another significant argument is that farmers and food corporations should “voluntarily” withdraw from using drugs which have a functional similarity to drugs used in humans, since this would reduce the concern for transmitting resistive bacteria on to humans through our food. Use of antibiotics for livestock growth promotion has been banned by many European countries, as they have determined that similar investment in more food resulted in the same growth yields without the additional antibiotic resistance generation.

It is evident that we can no longer take how our food is produced for granted. The expression food for thought is no longer some overused metaphor, it is a reality.

Antibiotic Resistance: Are We Winning the Battle, But Losing the War?

Laziness, disillusionment, anger— these are just a few words that come to mind when considering the problem of antibiotic resistance.   From the deliberate misuse of antibiotics in animal feeds, to wide-spread, inappropriate prescriptions for viral infections, the sheer scale of the problem lends itself to feelings of powerlessness and frustration.  For many of us, it’s simply easier to ignore the warning signs and shrug off the future consequences of doing nothing.  Unfortunately, the reality is that people are dying every day—in hospitals, nursing homes and long-term care facilities—from bacteria that were once treated with antibiotic therapy. What were once miracle drugs just a few decades ago—able to eradicate any bacterial infection in the blink of an eye— are now no longer working for a number of infections.  With a lack of good treatment options against resistant strains such as MRSA, enterococci, and c. difficile, frontline health professionals are becoming increasingly alarmed and frightened for future patients.

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How Ondine Biomedical Addresses A World Of Growing Antibiotic Resistance

In 1969, the US Surgeon General William Stewart declared that the human race had won the war against bacteria. It was thought that bacteria would never be able to figure out how to develop resistance to the new complex antibiotics that had been created and that scientific researchers would always be able to stay well ahead of the bacteria. Today, it is well known that bacteria have reversed this situation and that the antibiotic resistance war is far from being over.

It is estimated that there are about 17 million people in the US alone annually suffering from painful and potentially harmful biofilm infections. To me and my colleagues at Ondine, we understand that certain bacteria have become dangerous and remain a threat to all of us. Every single one of us knows of a person who died, or nearly died, of an infection. Many of these people have died from infections acquired while in hospitals, a place where most of us think is safe. This just was not the case 20 years ago. This prevalence of deadly infections could not have been expected in 1969.  Our society’s overuse and misuse of antibiotics (over 25 million pounds of antibiotics are given to livestock every year) have led to greater threats to humanity. At the same time, the enormous costs and regulatory burdens have led to fewer new antibiotics being developed. Clearly the battle rages and we as humans have not been very strategic about our critical weapons. Read more »

Dr. Cale Street, Vice President of Research, Profiled On CEO Clips

Ondine would like to congratulate Dr. Cale Street for being profiled on national TV via CEO Clips. In this video, Dr. Street touches upon the seriousness of antibiotic resistant superbugs and Ondine’s solution to this growing problem. MRSAidTM is a novel, non-antibiotic system designed to reduce the incidence of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). In the US alone, more than 99,000 people die every year as a result of HAIs.

MRSAidTM is currently being used at Vancouver General Hospital on patients undergoing select surgeries in order to reduce their risk of developing post surgical site infections.  Since MRSAidTM does not generate bacterial resistance, this is a critical milestone in the fight against HAIs and antibiotic resistant superbugs. Click here to watch another video of MRSAidTM and Dr. Cale Street being featured on Canadian national news.

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