Is Antibiotic Overuse Killing Us?

Guess who's getting 70% of the antibiotics in this country?  No, not your son's constant ear infections. Chickens. That's right. Chickens

And because of that,someday you may die of an infection because antibiotic-resistant bugs have become a common form of death, according to The Washington Post.

Farmers feed their chickens antibiotics to cut down on infections when the chickens are all pressed together in a tight space to grow.  They've also used them to make fowl grow bigger, though the government is making them cut back on that.

But, as the AP reports, 2 million people a year develop serious infections -- and 23,000 die.  For the first time, the CDC has estimated how many people die from drug-resistant bacteria each year — about as many as those killed annually by flu.

Why?

Because of the growing threat of germs that are hard to treat since they’ve become resistant to drugs.

"Antibiotics like penicillin and streptomycin first became widely available in the 1940s, and today dozens are used to kill or suppress the bacteria behind illnesses ranging from strep throat to the plague," the AP recounts. "But as decades passed, some antibiotics stopped working against the bugs they previously vanquished. Experts say their overuse and misuse have helped make them less effective."

Infections of MRSA and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, two superbugs hospitals are now seeing all the time, can only be treated with antibiotics called carbapenems — considered one of the last lines of defense against hard-to-treat bugs. And it appears there are some infections now that no antibiotic can treat. What happens then? You die.  

Infections like MRSA and staph have prompted health officials to warn that if the situation gets much worse, "it could make doctors reluctant to do surgery or treat cancer patients if antibiotics won’t protect their patients from getting infections," the AP notes.

“If we’re not careful, the medicine chest will be empty” when doctors need infection-fighting drugs, said CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden.



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