American scientists sound the alarm: due to the fact that many antibiotics are used in the field of animal husbandry and the cultivation of fruits, vegetables and fish, superbacteria are formed that are not susceptible to antibiotics, and at the same time cause serious infectious diseases.
Many different foods, from fruit to farm-raised fish, contain antibiotics. The same applies to poultry and livestock. Meanwhile, experts in the field of health care reasonably consider such facts to be a serious cause for concern.
It is difficult to overestimate the importance of antibiotics in modern medicine. First of all, antibiotics are friends in the course of many diseases. By blocking the spread of bacteria that cause infections, antibiotics help during surgery, chemotherapy, and many other medical procedures. Every year, antibiotics save millions of lives by defeating infectious diseases, including even the most serious disease like tuberculosis.
At the same time, as early as 1945, health experts warned that overuse of antibiotics could lead to the development of so-called superbugs. This is a type of bacteria that cannot be treated with antibiotics. At the same time, they cause serious diseases. "Bacteria are sneaky and change very quickly," says Lina Brooke, a food safety expert at the nonprofit National Natural Resources Defense Council. "We always knew that we didn't have much time left: after all, antibiotics won't be able to show their effectiveness forever," explains the expert.
With excessive use of antibiotics, so-called superbugs can develop. This is a type of bacteria that cannot be treated with antibiotics. At the same time, they cause serious diseases.
"We understood that we were limited in time. We were just hoping that another drug would be created instead and the problem would be solved," says Dr. Lance Price, director of the Antibiotic Resistance Action Center at George Washington University. "But now we see that new bacteria have appeared, which are difficult to deal with with the help of almost all our drugs," the doctor admits.
The threat from antibiotic-resistant bacteria is far from theoretical. This is a problem of the present time, not of future generations. For example, at least 2 million Americans will be exposed to antibiotic-resistant bacteria this year. Of them, 23,000 people will die. And this is not just another intimidation. These are official data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Jean Wichard heads the National Antibiotic Resistance Surveillance Laboratory at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to him, resistance to antibiotics is one of the most serious issues that worries doctors all over the world. "In the course of time, diseases that were once easily treated with antibiotics are getting worse. Such therapy requires funds, and all this is a difficulty," says Vichard.
And what to do with food products? "Antibiotics are used in large quantities in the field of animal husbandry. They are mainly used to stimulate the growth of animals and birds and to compensate for stressful, unsanitary living conditions," explains Lina Brook.
Antibiotics are used in large quantities in the field of animal husbandry. They are used to stimulate the growth of animals and birds and compensate for stressful, unsanitary living conditions.
In turn, such aggressive use of antibiotics accelerates the rate at which bacteria mutate, and drug resistance develops. Antibiotics are also used as feeding and treatment of fruits and vegetables, as well as artificially grown fish. "But as of today, we still haven't figured out how much it threatens people's health," says Price.
Because such antibiotic-resistant superbugs already exist, there are many ways for them to spread to humans, says Brooke. Firstly, it is the consumption of meat, including poultry, stuffed with such bacteria. According to the doctor, these bacteria can also migrate from animals to humans:
Experts are also concerned about the excessive use of antibiotics in medical institutions. Doctors literally feed patients antibiotics. Scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that 1/3 of antibiotic prescriptions are completely inappropriate.
But 70% of all antibiotics used in medicine are used in animal husbandry. This is what representatives of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) say. The level of sales and use of important antibiotics in livestock increased by 23% between 2009 and 2014, according to FDA estimates.
Wichard says the new antibiotic rules will go into effect in January 2017. Officials will introduce restrictions on the use of important antibiotics (from a medical point of view) in the livestock sector. True, Price claims that loopholes can be found in these rules that will allow producers of food products, including meat, to use antibiotics to the same extent as before.