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Top 5 contributors to antibiotic resistance - one of the greatest threats to humankind


Antibiotics

(NaturalNews) We currently have a major public health crisis on our hands, and very little is being done to address it. Our said-to-be first line of defense against harmful pathogens, antibiotics, is quickly becoming irrelevant due to growing antibiotic resistance – because apparently all those nasty critters that antibiotics were designed to kill are now outsmarting their pursuers, and becoming "superbugs" immune to conventional treatment.

It's become a serious problem at hospitals, health clinics and even in crop fields – places where strange new varieties of ultra-virulent bacteria are reportedly taking over and causing both incurable infections in humans, and damage to our food supply. And the problem is perpetually worsening as a result of multiple factors, not the least of which include the damaging ways in which we farm, treat disease and dispose of waste.

The following are among the top five contributors to antibiotic resistance in our day and age, and represent areas where we need major reform for the protection of our food, people and way of life:

Biosolids

The industrial revolution may have simplified our lives in many ways by automating production and labor, but the toxic consequences of all the heavy metal and biological waste it's generated are now being linked to the spread of deadly superbugs like MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) and C-Difficile.

A team of researchers from the University of the West of Scotland (UWS) and the University of Strathclyde, both in the UK, recently set out to quantify the damage caused by what we'll collectively refer to as "biosolids." They quickly learned that such pollution is a hotbed for the growth and spread of resistant bacterial strains.

"There is a long chain of events that need to be examined – from historic industrial pollution to measuring the full impact of washing waste into our waterways," says Dr. Fiona Henriquez, who helped spearhead the research. "It is vital we take a holistic view if we are to win the battle against the bugs."

Pharmaceutical wastewater

The process of producing chemical drugs for disease treatment generates a tremendous amount of wastewater that ends up flowing down our sewers and into our lakes and rivers. And a recent study out of China found that pharmaceutical wastewater seems to harbor the antibiotic-resistant genes that turn everyday bacteria into deadly killers.

After testing various wastewater samples, researchers from Nanjing University found that pharmaceutical wastewater contains significantly higher levels of antibiotic-resistant genes compared to normal sewage wastewater, presumably due to the same drug-induced resistance factors present in the drugs themselves.

Over-prescription by doctors

Which brings us to our next point: pharmaceutical drugs, and antibiotics in particular. They're great in theory, and for many years they actually worked – that is, until doctors began prescribing them for everything as some kind of disease catch-all, including viral infections like the common cold.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that upwards of half of all outpatient antibiotic prescriptions are completely unnecessary, the consequence of this being some two million antibiotic-resistant illness diagnoses and 23,000 deaths every single year.

"Antibiotics are an indispensable weapon in every physician's arsenal, but when prescribed unnecessarily for nonbacterial infections like the common cold, as they too often are, they provide no benefit and create problems," reports The New York Times.

"They wipe out healthy bacteria and can cause side effects like yeast infections and allergic reactions. Worse still, they contribute to the rise of 'superbugs' that resist antibiotic treatment."

Factory farming

Antibiotics are also given to factory farm animals to not only prevent disease but also accelerate their growth and development – a greed-based approach to maximizing farm profits that's having a devastating effect on antibiotic effectiveness. The federal Interagency Task Force on Antimicrobial Resistance puts it this way:

"The extensive use of antimicrobial drugs has resulted in drug resistance that threatens to reverse the medical advances of the last seventy years."

You might be thinking to yourself: But most antibiotics are given to humans, not animals, so is this really all that big of a deal? Truth be told, some 80 percent of all antibiotics sold in the U.S. are used in meat and poultry production, not to treat human patients.

Farmed salmon

Fisheries are another antibiotic vortex, as farmed fish often require regular doses of antibiotics in order to keep confinement-related diseases at bay. A prominent example of this are Chilean salmon fisheries that consume more than 550 tons of antibiotics annually, according to the country's National Fisheries and Aquaculture Service.

Not all fisheries use antibiotics in these large quantities, of course. But many of them do as a way to maintain large fish stocks on the cheap, especially when their farms are located in close proximity to areas where pathogens are present.

"Open net-cage aquaculture systems encourage antibiotic use because farmed fish are fully exposed to diseases and parasites that occur in the ocean environment," explains Farmed and Dangerous.

"With the combination of exposure to disease and the ability of disease pathogens to multiply quickly in the high density conditions common to net-cages, excessive and preventative antibiotic use is common practice in the salmon farming industry."

Sources for this article include:

Scotsman.com

Journals.PLOS.org

NYTimes.com

ConsumersUnion.org

FarmedAndDangerous.org

Science.NaturalNews.com

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