Econintersect: Before you you dismiss this as another possibly poorly informed move by a publicity seeking congressperson, Rep. Louise Slaughter (D, NY) is a trained microbiologist who represents New York’s 25th Congressional District (Rochester). She is reacting to peer reviewed research by 16 scientists from six different departments at five European universities and research institutes.
A paper published in the journal EMBO Molecular Medicine, April 2013, identifies by genome sequencing the same deadly methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) lineages in cattle and their owners. Congresswoman Slaughter wrote in a letter to Dr. Margaret Hamburg, the Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration:
“This study ends any debate. The extreme overuse of antibiotics in livestock is endangering human health. For decades, the United States Food and Drug Administration has failed to act in the face of a growing threat. These findings make it clearer than ever that their failure is endangering human life. Starting today, the FDA must take strong federal action to reduce antibiotic use in livestock and protect human health.”
The link provided to the letter on the congresswoman’s website was broken when Econintersect was preparing this story.
In 2011 Rep. Slaughter re-introduced H.R. 965, The Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA). The proposed act proposes to prohibit the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in food producing animals. The prohibited activity would be the prophylactic use of antibiotics but would allow the therapeutic use for treatment of diagnosed isease or infection. Overuse of antibiotics has led to the development of treatment resistant strains, including deadly staph infections that kill an estimated 19,000 people a year in the U.S. This is approximately 20% of those who contract life-threatening infections from this super bug.
About 5% of U.S. hospital patients (approximately 1.2 million) become infected and nearly 8% (94,000) are life-threatening cases. The added cost to patients for treating these infections is nearly $8 billion a year.
For comparison to the 19,000 antibiotic resistant staph deaths per year, in 2009 approximately 17,000 died from AIDS in the U.S and in 2010 15,529.
- Whole genome sequencing identifies zoonotic transmission of MRSA isolates with the novel mecA homologue mecC (Ewan M. Harrison et al, EMBO Molecular Medicine, April 2013)
- Deadly Staph Infection ‘Superbug’ Has a Dangerous Foothold in U.S. Jails (Silja J.A. Talvi, AlterNet, 03 December, 2007)
- Staph Infection Statistics (Statistic Brain, 26 October 2012)
- Definitive Link Confirms Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Transmits from Livestock to Humans Press release by Congresswoman Louise M. Slaughter, 06 April 2013)
- PAMTA (Congresswoman Louise M. Slaughter website)
- HIV/AIDS – deaths 2012 Country Ranks (Countries of the World website)
- HIV in the United States: At A Glance (CDC wevsite)
Hat tip to Roger Erickson. He told Econintersect:
This was known more than 50 years ago. Really, it’s been known since 1958.
Denmark banned antibiotics on farms decades back. I think they were the first. We’re way behind what Sweden, Netherlands, etc have been doing for decades to control antibiotic resistance.
You would not believe the extant and age of successfully ignored formally published studies on this subject. There have been endless citizen lawsuits in Britain, and citizen right to review hospital records too. The practices vary tremendously by nation, and the US public health record on this score has been pretty bad.
It’s as though all US hospitals were SuperFund sites for SuperBugs.