Our Poor Antibiotic Practices Have Sped the Evolution of Resistance to Our Last-Resort Antibiotic
Posted on December 12, 2015 Comments (2)
The risk to human health due to anti-biotic resistance continues to be a huge public health concern. Our continued failure to adopt better antibiotics practices increase that risk. Those bad practices include feeding large amounts of antibiotics to farm animals to increase yields and increase the evolution of drug resistant bacteria.
In 2012, the World Health Organization called colistin critically important for human health, meaning its use in animals should be limited to avoid promoting resistance. Yet in 2013, the European Medicines Agency reported that polymyxins were the fifth most heavily used type of antibiotic in European livestock.
Colistin, an antibiotic that previously was a last defense against resistant strains of bacteria, is even more heavily used in China than Europe (it is not clear how the resistance developed but it likely developed in one place, most likely China, and spread rather than emerging in 2 places). The USA has been more responsible and has not risked human health through the widespread use of colistin in farm animals. But the USA still uses antibiotics irresponsibly to promote livestock growth at the risk of human lives being lost as antibiotics lose their effectiveness as bacteria evolve resistance (which is sped by poor practices in agri-business).
Antibiotic resistance is an enormous risk to human health. Millions of lives could be lost and we have have years to reduce those risks. Scientists are doing a great deal of work to find new tools to help us avoid catastrophe but we have been far too careless in our practices, especially in the massive use of antibiotics merely to boost yields in agribusiness.
Related: Are you ready for a world without antibiotics? (2010) – 80% of the Antibiotics in the USA are Used in Agriculture and Aquaculture – What Happens If the Overuse of Antibiotics Leads to Them No Longer Working? – Waste Treatment Plants Result in Super Bacteria (2009) – CDC Again Stresses Urgent Need to Adjust Practices or Pay a Steep Price (2013)