Wednesday, November 12, 2014

New antibiotic challenges fast emerging

Farmers and feed companies are going to face intense pressure soon to stop adding antibiotics to rations.

The manufacturers of antibiotics and feed have already agreed to stop using them as growth promotants, but there is a gaping loophole that allows their continued use for “disease prevention”.

Now that may be banned to preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics in human medicine.

Microbiologist Jason Tetro of Toronto writes in the Globe and Mail today that recent discoveries that Staphylococcus aureus Clonal Complex 398 ((CC398) is turning up in a lot of places should serve as a wakeup call for the agriculture industry and government regulators.

He said the medical profession got its wakeup call in 2011 when a new strain of gonorrhea that is resistant to all antibiotics emerged.

After that, antibiotics fell from the treatment of first resort to last resort, he said.

He predicts the same will become true for agriculture.

CC398 all comes from agriculture, and mainly from hog farms.

It was first identified a decade ago, writes Tetro, and was found capable of passing from pigs to people and from people to pigs.

In 2009, it turned up in people in Manhattan.

In 2010, research indicated it’s turning up in the general population.

This September, researchers in England found it in the blood of hospital patients and in the environment. Their genetic  research traced all of these CC398 bacteria to livestock.

Tetro said the Canadian agriculture industry needs to stop using antibiotics and to develop alternatives, such as boosting immune systems and reducing stress levels on livestock and poultry.

He urges consumers to shop for meat and poultry products that are raised without the use of antibiotics because “Let’s face it. Money talks.”