This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

If you are a user of my textbook and would like to suggest a blog post idea, please email me at: john.weeks@sdsu.edu

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Beware the Drug-Resistant Bugs

The US Centers for Disease Control has released a new report reminding us that bugs are constantly waiting in the wings to kill us, if we drop our vigilance. In this case, dropping our vigilance actually means being too vigilant in using antibiotics when we don't need them. This leads bacteria to build up resistance to those drugs, and then we're toast.
Every year, more than two million people in the United States get infections that are resistant to antibiotics and at least 23,000 people die as a result...

Antibiotic resistance is rising for many different pathogens that are threats to health,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “If we don’t act now, our medicine cabinet will be empty and we won’t have the antibiotics we need to save lives.”

The use of antibiotics is the single most important factor leading to antibiotic resistance. Up to 50 percent of all the antibiotics prescribed for people are not needed or are not prescribed appropriately.
The report notes that antibiotics are routinely administered to animals raised for slaughter, and the New York Times picked up on this part of the story:
One point of contention has been the extent to which industrial-scale animal farming contributes to the problem of antibiotic-resistant infections in humans. The government has estimated that more than 70 percent of antibiotics in the United States are given to animals. Companies use them to prevent sickness when animals are packed together in ways that breed infection. They also use them to make animals grow faster, though federal authorities are trying to stop that. 
The report said that “much of antibiotic use in animals is unnecessary and inappropriate and makes everyone less safe.” It also said that about half of antibiotic use in people is inappropriate.
In general, this sounds like a good argument to stop eating meat.

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