Antibiotic resistance in humans: Time to act before it is too late

By @ritwikroy1985 on
Antibiotic Resistance
Mississippi catfish farmer Bill Battle is shown in this still image taken from video as he discusses his industry's struggles with imports of pangasius catfish from Vietnam that have taken market share away from U.S. producers, at Battle Farms in Tunica, Mississippi, August 22, 2015. U.S. producers argue the new U.S. Department of Agriculture program is needed to ensure that imports tainted with banned antibiotics and other chemicals are kept out of U.S. grocery stores. Vietnamese exporters say the program is a trade barrier aimed at protecting a single industry. Picture taken August 22, 2015. Reuters/David Lawder

Antibiotics overuse may spell doom for humans and it’s a very serious problem that needs immediate attention. Now that everybody is aware that the deadly bacteria containing the mcr-1 gene, resistant to even the “last resort” antibiotic colistin is fast spreading in Europe, something urgent needs to be done. The superbug was first found in China, then Denmark and later UK.

However, the problem is not only the spreading of the superbug containing mcr-1 gene. The bigger problem is the antibiotic resistance in humans brought about more by overuse of antibiotics in agriculture than treating infections, reports SBS. In December 2015, it was reported by the US Food and Drug Administration that antibiotics sale approved for use in livestock increased by 23 per cent between years 2009 and 2014.

Now that antibiotics are failing and it is becoming increasingly tough to find new ones, the problem needs to be tackles  by targeting the area where antibiotics are used most. Experts believe that the practice of widespread use of antibiotics in agriculture has to stop. The FDA is looking at this year-end as a deadline. While governments must enforce restrictions to end such activity, it is also duty of the informed and aware citizens to participate and support the cause.

According to Huffington Post, innumerable food chains and food suppliers including Costco, McDonalds, Panera, Elevation Burger, Chipotle and Applegate have pledged to purchase chicken raised without use of antibiotics. In 2015, a number of chains revealed plans of tackling the problem of antibiotic resistance in humans. 

According to a TIME report, half of raw chicken sold in the markets contains antibiotic resistant bacteria. A joint statement issued by 25 public health organizations, including the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics, calls for significant reductions in the use of antibiotics for animal food production. Powerful corporations should create the pressure to reduce agricultural use of antibiotics to promote growth. That would be an important first step towards reducing antibiotic resistance.

Coming to antibiotics overuse in humans, nine out of ten doctors feel pressured to prescribe antibiotics to up antibiotics sale. Therefore, 97 per cent of the patients who ask for antibiotics, get them. As per an August 2015 report by The Guardian, National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) revealed that doctors write 10 million needless antibiotics prescriptions a year.

Again, smokers are 20-30 per cent more likely to get antibiotic prescriptions than non-smokers if they were diagnosed with infections, reports American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

"If smokers are being prescribed antibiotics 20 to 30 per cent more than other individuals, if not indicated, it's going to contribute to that antibiotic resistance in society and bacteria are going to become more and more resistant," said lead author Michael Steinberg, of Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

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