“SuperBug” Found on U.S. Pig Farm
Carbapenem-resistant enterobactericeae or CRE have recently been found on a moderate-sized, family-run farm of about 1,500 sows. These germs have a high antibiotic-resistance to carbapenems (a last resort group of antibiotics) and are considered an “urgent” public health threat by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Why CRE made it to this particular farm is sort of a mystery considering it’s been a closed-herd system since the 1960’s. The assumption is that it may have arrived on equipment, supplies or people that came to the farm. Thomas Wittum, professor and chair of Veterinary Preventive Medicine at OSU, believes widespread use of ceftiofur, an antibiotic given to piglets at birth for disease prevention and to male pigs when castrated, helped these bacteria spread within the farrowing barn.
A new government study suggests that livestock, specifically pigs, are a reservoir for powerful new bacteria which are a threat to human health, and these bugs have become immune to the medical antibiotics normally used to treat them. Doctors are concerned that this immunity is being passed on to humans over time, through food.
Dr. Terry Simpson, surgeon, has this to say about viruses:
They all come from our food. Mostly they originated when man domesticated animals for consumption, and these bugs were living inside these animals. These viruses and bacteria then mutated and became the plagues of mankind.
Since livestock is close to humans on the evolutionary ladder, the ability to jump from one species to another is easy. We have our own Andromeda strain. We don’t have to go to another planet, and the next major plague is most likely residing peacefully in our animals.
While there has never been a known case of a human contracting CRE from eating meat, it is a “hypothetical possibility”, and if it happened it would be via raw or under-cooked meat. Professor Wittum feels this is a potentially serious problem since the possibility of CRE contaminating fresh retail meat would be a threat to public health as well as to consumer confidence.
It is important for the public to be selective with antibiotic use and to remember these points:
- Don’t ask your doctor for an antibiotic in you have a cough, cold, or ear ache. If your infection is from a virus you will not get better with an antibiotic. Beware – it turns out most antibiotics actually cause the virus to be activated, so it’s better to let a “bug” run its course.
- If you do have an infection, use ALL the antibiotics you are given. Stopping use prematurely before all the bacteria are killed may lead to a rise in antibiotic resistance.
- If you have leftover antibiotics, return them to the pharmacy for disposal. Don’t throw them down the sink where they end up in the sewer. And don’t use older antibiotics you may have unless told to do so by a physician.
- Use bleach on counter tops as it does a great job of taking care of the tough, small viruses that are hard to kill (much harder than just bacteria).
- Stick to safe food preparation: careful handling, hand washing, clean surfaces, and appropriate temperatures to inactivate the toxins.
Two weeks ago I wrote about the Veterinary Feed Directive, and the above information is an example of why this directive was put in place ( http://titanoutletstore.com/its-here-the-veterinary-feed-directive/ ). I guess we can be dismissive of the possibilities, but at what cost and to whom?
-Terry Olson, Titan Outlet Store Team