Antimicrobial Resistance a Growing Health Threat, Says CDC

Millions of Americans take antimicrobial drugs each year to fight illness, trusting they will work. However, the bacteria, viruses and other pathogens are fighting back.

Within the past couple of years alone, new drug-resistant patterns have emerged and resistance has increased – a trend that demands urgent action to preserve the last lines of defense against many of these germs.

Today, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) joined the World Health Organization and other health partners in recognizing World Health Day, which this year spotlights antimicrobial resistance. [Read more…]

Pigs Raised with Antibiotics Exhibit Lower Levels than “Organic” Pigs

A new study finds that although the demand for antibiotic-free pigs is increasing, pigs raised without antibiotics are more likely to have bacteria and parasites.

Pigs raised outdoors without antibiotics had higher rates of three food-borne pathogens than pigs on conventional farms, according to a comparison made between antibiotic-free and conventional methods.

“Animal-friendly, outdoor farms tend to have a higher occurrence of Salmonella, as well as higher rates of parasitic disease,” said lead study author Wondwossen Gebreyes, associate professor of veterinary preventive medicine at Ohio State University.

More than 50% of pigs reared on antibiotic-free farms tested positive for Salmonella, compared to 39 percent of conventionally raised pigs infected with the bacterial pathogen. The Toxoplasma gondii parasite was detected in 6.8 percent of antibiotic-free pigs compared to 1.1 percent of conventionally raised pigs. compared to 1.1 percent of conventionally raised pigs. And two naturally raised pigs of the total 616 sampled tested positive for Trichinella spiralis, a parasite considered virtually eradicated from conventional U.S. pork operations.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that consumers cook fresh pork to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit, since thorough cooking ensures that these infectious agents in food animals should pose no risk to human health. Gebreyes won’t recommend one type of pork production practice over another.

“We are just doing the science and showing the results,” he said. “Does having an antibiotic-free and animal-friendly environment cause the re-emergence of historically significant pathogens? I think that is an extremely important question for consumers, policymakers and researchers to consider.”

In an earlier published paper, Ian Philips, et al., wrote “The use of antibiotics in food animals selects for bacteria resistant to antibiotics used in humans, and these might spread via the food to humans and cause human infection, hence the banning of growth-promoters. The actual danger seems small, and there might be disadvantages to human and to animal health. The low dosages used for growth promotion are an unquantified hazard. Although some antibiotics are used both in animals and humans, most of the resistance problem in humans has arisen from human use. Resistance can be selected in food animals, and resistant bacteria can contaminate animal-derived food, but adequate cooking destroys them. How often they colonize the human gut, and transfer resistance genes is not known.”

It’s important to note that the study was funded by a grant from the National Pork Board. The results were published in a recent issue of the journal Foodborne Pathogens and Disease.


  • J. Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, Vol. 53, No. 1. (1 January 2004), pp. 28-52
  • Foodborne Pathogens and Disease, April 1, 2008, 5(2): 199-203.

Infection Expert Warns That MRSA May Be Unstoppable

Dr. Ron Najafi, CEO of NovaBay, describes MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) as a slow-moving hurricane. "Once the ‘superbug’ hits a community or hospital," asks Dr. Najafi, "are populations ready to deal with it?"

His comment was prompted by the untimely death of college student Chris Steden to the disease, which infects 90,000 Americans in our hospitals every year, with 19,000 deaths reported annually.

The company is working on a compound, NVC-422, which may successfully fight many pathogens including MRSA. S. aureua breeds in the nose and on the skin. NovbaBay’s AgaNase formulation of NVC-422 for nasal applications, is an anti-infective, but not a conventional antibiotic. Topically applied to the lower nasal passage to eliminate colonization of S. aureus, including MRSA, AgaNase rapidly destroys a range of pathogens that include bacteria, yeast, and viruses.

Source: NobaBay Pharmaceuticals

Mathematical Model for Prescribing Antibiotics May Help Control Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria

In the United States some 100,000 people die every year because they become infected in hospital with a strain of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. To combat this problem, a sophisticated mathematical model has been developed that changes the way that antibiotics are prescribed and administered.

"We have developed the mathematical model in order to identify the key factors that contribute to this problem and to estimate the effectiveness of different types of preventative measures in typical hospital settings," said Vanderbilt mathematician Glenn F. Webb, who described the results at a presentation at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science on Feb. 17, 2008 in Boston, Massachusetts.

The most effective way to combat this growing problem, said Mr. Webb, was to minimize the use of antibiotics. It was no secret, he continued, that antibiotics were overused in hospitals. How to optimize its administration was a difficult issue. But the excessive use of antibiotics, which may benefit individual patients, was creating a serious problem for the general patient community.

The model, developed by an inter-disciplinary team of researchers, showed that in a hospital where antibiotic treatments were begun 3 days after diagnosis and continued for 18 days, the number of cross-infections by resistant bacteria increased and decreased but never disappeared completely. When antibiotic treatments started the day of diagnosis and continued for 8 days, however, the cross-infection rate fell to nearly zero within 20 days.

. The mathematical analysis reveals that the "optimal strategy" for controlling hospital epidemics is to start antibiotic treatments as soon as possible and administer the drugs for the shortest possible time. Beginning treatment as early as possible is the most effective in knocking down the population of the non-resistant bacteria that is causing a patient’s initial illness and minimizing the length of treatment shortens the length of time when each patient acts as a source of infection. "Our results point out an urgent need for more research into the issue of the best timing for the administration of antibiotics and how to reduce its misuse and overuse," said Webb.

The model was developed by an interdisciplinary team of researchers. In addition to Webb, the contributors are Erika M.C. D’Agata at Harvard University’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Pierre Magal and Damien Olivier at the Université du Havre in France and Shigui Ruan at the University of Miami, Coral Gables. It is described in the paper "Modeling antibiotic resistance in hospitals: The impact of minimizing treatment duration" published in the Journal of Theoretical Biology.

Source: Journal of Theoretical Biology, December, 2007.

Antibiotics Not Recommended for Urinary Tract Infections in Kids

Giving antibiotics to prevent recurrent urinary tract infections in small children won’t help and may even hurt, a new study finds.

Reporting in the July 11 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers say the use of antibiotics as prevention boosts risks for drug resistance while doing nothing to shield kids from future urinary tract infections (UTIs).