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Farm Workers Carry Drug-Resistant Staph Despite Partial FDA Antibiotics Ban

Soulskill posted 1 year,26 days | from the that's-awfully-mean-of-them dept.

Medicine 120

An anonymous reader writes "New research out of the University of North Carolina now shows factory farm workers actually carry drug-resistant staph. Europe has long ago banned the use of antibiotics in livestock, but the FDA remains behind the curve with a partial ban. Thanks to large industrial farming operations, we all remain continuously at risk as our last line of antibiotics is wasted on animals."

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120 comments

Who are you? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44173345)

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How Can Spammers Look At Themselves In The Mirror? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44173375)

You sleep like a baby at night. Don't you?!

Re:How Can Spammers Look At Themselves In The Mirr (0)

davester666 (731373) | 1 year,26 days | (#44173451)

Obviously not. Balmer crams his dick up their ass every night. Every one of them.

Nobody wanted to receive debit cards with those ridiculous withdrawal fee's, and Balmer was the only other payment option.

Re:How Can Spammers Look At Themselves In The Mirr (0)

donscarletti (569232) | 1 year,26 days | (#44173503)

Troll, not spammer.

The most obvious part: "search for next week's lottery numbers and emerge as a millionaire!"

You really think Microsoft is going to claim their search engine can find the lottery numbers, and claim it on Slashdot of all places? You are too much of a sucker.

Re:How Can Spammers Look At Themselves In The Mirr (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44173939)

You really think Microsoft is going to claim their search engine can find the lottery numbers, and claim it on Slashdot of all places?

Why not? They lie and cheat about everything else.

"Microsoft's browser benchmark cheats, gives IE 11 speed crown

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Yea... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44173347)

We kinda deserve to get wiped out at this point.

Re:NO WAY MAN! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44173517)

I disagree!

Re:Yea... (1)

flimflammer (956759) | 1 year,26 days | (#44173797)

Boy isn't your face going to be red when it actually happens.

White. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44173913)

His face will be white when it happens. Well, technically, it's his SKULL, but his face was on it and it's nowhere else now, so near enough.

Do you know what the problem is?

Stupid fuckers used to get themselves killed. This isn't allowed any more and so the morons and the greedy morons will take everyone else with them. Being morons, they won't think it will happen to them until it does, and when it does, because it's not allowed to let nature take its course with morons, they'll yell and scream and pout to get fixed up at the expense of everyone else.

PIck Your Hospital? (4, Interesting)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | 1 year,26 days | (#44173381)

So, if you don't want to get MRSA while in the hospital, you should pick one that does not have many farm hands as patients?

Re:PIck Your Hospital? (3, Interesting)

Mashiki (184564) | 1 year,26 days | (#44173999)

Nope. I live in a rural area(city of ~30k rural pop ~120k), and my local hospital has had zero issues or outbreaks of MRSA. Though the nearby cities of London and Kitchener/Waterloo/Cambridge here in Ontario, have all had problems of MRSA. If you don't want to get it, you need to go to a hospital that has good microbiological controls in place.

Re: PIck Your Hospital? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44174479)

Apparently, you want more antibiotic-free farm hands. They don't carry mrsa.

Re:PIck Your Hospital? (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44180181)

Hard to find staff without staph?

This is kind of fun (5, Funny)

ZarathustraDK (1291688) | 1 year,26 days | (#44173395)

Y'know, evolution being the path by which this happened, and americans being unable to blame it because that would aknowledge its existence.

I guess it will get blamed on socialism, Obama, terrorists er something.

Re:This is kind of fun (2, Insightful)

Black Parrot (19622) | 1 year,26 days | (#44173429)

Y'know, evolution being the path by which this happened, and americans being unable to blame it because that would aknowledge its existence

I suspect the dominant social factor is the fact that the USA lacks the will (or spine) to impose badly needed regulations if they would cut into someone's profits. Especially if that 'someone' is a whole industry.

Re:This is kind of fun (2)

Black Parrot (19622) | 1 year,26 days | (#44173433)

[Edit to add:]

Letting people die causes less outrage.

Re:This is kind of fun (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44177193)

Even current regulations are failing. Just browse through the FDA warning letters and look at how many times they cite farms for illegal levels of antibiotics (and other drugs) in their cattle. It's as if the ranchers are happy to deal with the warning letters and fines.

And this is kind of sad (5, Funny)

c0lo (1497653) | 1 year,26 days | (#44173485)

Sad, because the EU may had imposed the ban for nothing: unless they also impose a quarantine against anything/anyone coming from outside, the drug-resistant staph will get into EU (directly from US or via other routes).

One wonders: would this staph strain they bred qualify to WMD?

Re:And this is kind of sad (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44173909)

The EU has MRSA already, mostly in hospitals.

Re: And this is kind of sad (-1)

crmarvin42 (652893) | 1 year,26 days | (#44174303)

The EU did ban them for almost no reason. Here is an alternative explanation for the same data. Farm workers are people (no duh right!) and like all other people they go to hospitals (visiting others, actual illness/injury, etc) those banned antibiotics are still used with reckless abandon in hospitals and MRSA is endemic to hospitals as a result. Therefore, which is more likely? That the farm workers got their MRSA from a hospital where the drugs and MRSA are both already known to be present, or on a farm animals where there is no reason for either to be present? Everyone wants to believe the second, but the US has (so far) not banned them because of the lack of any way to determine if the infections come from either of the two possible sources. I personally believe it is both, but with a greater proportion being laid at the feet of hospitals since every human in the US goes to a hospital at somepoint, but only about 1 percent of Americans work on farms of any kind.

Re: And this is kind of sad (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44174435)

The MRSA strain in the paper was specific to animals. TFA is worth reading.

Re: And this is kind of sad (5, Insightful)

ericloewe (2129490) | 1 year,26 days | (#44174453)

You seem to be missing the point. Randomly giving animals (or people, but that's harder to control) antibiotics without them needed said antibiotics will eventually create antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Your point is a typical "We can't fix everything, so let's fix nothing!" attitude I've seen applied way too often on this website.

Also, these antibiotics aren't banned. Uncontrolled administration of any antibiotic for non-medical reasons is. What would you suggest we do? Stop using antibiotics and hope not to die because of something that could've been easily treated with antibiotics but wasn't due to a fear that some bacteria will develop a resistance against it?

It's not a matter of eliminating the problem, it's a matter of controlling it, limiting it to situations where the probabiility of some mutant strain appearing is acceptable compared to death.

Re: And this is kind of sad (2, Informative)

crmarvin42 (652893) | 1 year,26 days | (#44175187)

Who says we are applying them randomly to livestock? Antibiotics cost money and animal producers have to deal with a boom bust cycle of profitabilitlity that means unnecessary expenses must be cut whenever possible. They are VERY deliberate in their decisions regarding any feed ingredient becuase feed accounts for 60 to 80% of the cost of bringing their prouduct to market. A 5% savings in total feed costs could spell the difference between losing money and making money.

For an MD, however, the incentives are all stacked in favor of reckless use. Malpractice insurance forces MD's to side on the side of overprescription becuase they don't want to be sued for witholding antibiotics that turn out to have been necessary. Patients come in expecting to be prescribed something, and if they aren't they are more than willing to make another appointment with a doctor who will prescribe them what they want. Currently all of the negatives of antibiotic resistance development can be blamed on Agriculture (even in the EU which is rediculous considering the bans), so why risk malpractice or disgruntled patients to prevent a negative outcome no one will blame you for anyway?

I believe that use in animals does contribute. I stated as such in my post. However, it is my opinion that the relative impact of animal vs. human prescribing on the resistance problem are orders of magnitude different and banning in livestock will only make marginal improvements at best. That may be good for human medicine, but I believe that a cost-benefit analysis will show that the benefit to human medicine will be far outstriped by the cost to human food security from both a supply and sanitation perspective. I base this opinion not on my own vested interest (I'm responsible for supporting a sales force that sells antibiotic alternatives to livestock producers, so ban is good for me personally), but on attempts I've seen to model antibiotic resistance development.

Also, at the risk of sounding callous we need to keep in mind that most resistant infections are not fatal. No one said that these farmers with MRSA were dying. Only that they had MRSA present. As long as their immune system is not dramatically compromized they are capable of fighting off MRSA, becuase MRSA is not immune to antibodies, macrophages, or any other part of the acue phase response. They are only resistant to a single supportive therapy that most people don't actually need. That doesn't reduce the importance in the immunocompromized (Very young, elderly, those with other immune compromizing conditions, etc.). But it's not like MRSA is Ebola.

MRSA isn't even as bad as Salmonella, which can actually make an otherwise healthy person sick, is endogenous to poultry, and can be controlled via antibiotics in poultry feed. By banning sub-theraputic doses of antibiotics in poultry you increase the risk of food-borne salmonella infections which can kill the perfectly healthy among us... Unlike MRSA! This is why the decision to ban should have been based on a holistic cost-benefit analysis instead of the regressive "Precautionary Principle" which is motivated more by irrational fear than evidence.

Who says they aren't? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44175219)

"Who says we are applying them randomly to livestock?"

Who says we aren't?

"Antibiotics cost money"

And minor illnesses reduce the accelerated growth that intensive animal farming is trying to do. Which loses money. Applying selectively takes time and effort and that costs money. Mindlessly mass-vaccinating is simple.

Your thinking is far far FAR too narrow. Stretch your thinking brain.

Re:Who says they aren't? (2)

pepty (1976012) | 1 year,26 days | (#44177125)

There's nothing random about it: the dosage is calculated so as to maximize animal weight at time of slaughter.

Re:Who says they aren't? (2)

crmarvin42 (652893) | 1 year,26 days | (#44177523)

You cannot safely make such a broad generalization here.

Many farms, in my addmitedly anecdotal experience "most", only use antibiotics in a targeted way becuase of the cost associated with their use. Swine farms routinely administer them via feed or water to nursery pigs, but outside of the first month post-weaning, using is dramatically curtailed. Piglets in first couple of weeks post-weaning are very prone to clinical disease outbreaks (which require much higher antibiotic doses to treat), higher mortalities (as a result of disease challenge normally), and yes slower growth.

Sub-theraputic antibiotics can help with all three of these, but the growth factor is actually the least important, becuase by the end of the 2nd month post-weaning any differences disappear into the normal variability in animal performance. It is more about keeping more pigs alive and healthy through the stress of weaning than it is about performance. After they've made it through the most difficult period the value proposition for antibiotics is dramatically reduced, which is why sub-theraputic doses are not as common there. Bascially, they are not worth the cost to many farmers later

Re: And this is kind of sad (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | 1 year,26 days | (#44175997)

Who says we are applying them randomly to livestock?

Would you have preferred "indiscriminately"?

Also, at the risk of sounding callous we need to keep in mind that most resistant infections are not fatal.

Up to a 50% mortality rate in hospitals.
You're sounding very callous right now.

No one said that these farmers with MRSA were dying. Only that they had MRSA present. As long as their immune system is not dramatically compromized they are capable of fighting off MRSA, becuase MRSA is not immune to antibodies, macrophages, or any other part of the acue phase response.

Are you shitting me? This is not a good thing.
'No one said that these farmers with MRSA were dying. Only that they are walking reservoirs of drug resistant bacteria.'
'As long as their immune system is not dramatically compromized they are capable of fighting off MRSA and spreading the disease'

But it's not like MRSA is Ebola.

I wish MRSA was more like Ebola, I.E. limited to Africa and parts of Asia.
MRSA has an average mortality rate of 32% and it's everywhere.
If you catch one of the nastier strains, your chances of surviving are 50/50

Re: And this is kind of sad (1)

crmarvin42 (652893) | 1 year,26 days | (#44177979)

Up to a 50% mortality rate in hospitals. [emphasis added]

Exactly! In hospitals, populated primarily by the immuno compromized such as the elderly, cancer patients, patients recovering from invasive procedures like surgery. Focusing on hospital data only is a textbook example of sampling bias (literally, it was mention in my stats textbook in grad school).

Also, how many of them contracted MRSA from the hospital? Banning antibiotics in livestock will do nothing to curtail Hospital acquired MRSA infections.

What about MRSA rates in the community at large. What percent of people at work today would test positive for MRSA right now? Mortality rate in the hospital is one part of the total virulence of a disease, but it can be a very small part for something that is widespread. Swine flu scared the crap out of everyone becuase those hospitalized by it were so sick, but when they got around to looking at the community at large they found much much higher numbers of people that didn't need to see a doctor or visit a hospital but had been infected by it. In the end it was not that much more virulent than other strains of the flu.

Re: And this is kind of sad (3, Informative)

MobyDisk (75490) | 1 year,26 days | (#44176475)

Who says we are applying them randomly to livestock?

Dr. Glen Morris
PBS
FDA
Union of Concerned Scientists
CDC
I got all that from the first few hits on a Google search for "Antibiotics livestock" [lmgtfy.com]

Here are a few quotes from some of the articles:

Yet the United States continues to use at least 70 percent of its antibiotics on livestock, to shave pennies per pound from the price of pork chops or chicken

Meat producers have fed growth-promoting antibiotics to food animals for years.

Millions of pounds of antibiotics are routinely administered at low doses to large numbers of animals living in crowded conditions, not because they are sick, but to speed their growth and prevent possible infections

Your economic argument explains why they are doing it. It makes them money because the animals are fatter.

Re: And this is kind of sad (3, Interesting)

crmarvin42 (652893) | 1 year,26 days | (#44177821)

Yes, because a google search is the equivalent of a critical review, and not a popularity contest subject to clever tricks such as search engine optimizat at all.

I don't know where this Dr. Morris works within the FDA, but it is not within the center for veterinary medicine (CVM). The group responsible for regulating drugs in animal feed. The officials within CVM are prohibited by law from revoking the approval of a product without sufficient evidence of danger. Studies like the one above don't prove anything, they are all just correllation. And as we all know on /., Correlation is not proof of Causation!

I have several ideas for trial designs that might show stronger support, one way or the other, but instead of coming up with better designs they keep just repeating the same designs.

Idea #1: Find two demographically similar communities (preferably both having similar farm populations and production levels), one with a hospital and the other without and look at community MRSA rates. If I'm right, the town with the hospital will have much higher MRSA levels within the community if not, there will be no difference.

Idea #2: Similar approach, but without hospitals and with farms under opposing antibiotic use rules. In the US there are several university farms that have gone without antibiotics for decades, or a US community could be comparied to an EU community. If I'm wrong, then there would be higher MRSA rates in the community with higher drug use on swine farms. If I'm right there will be no difference.

I'm willing to conced the point if someone will show me something more rigorous than "We tested a bunch of people in a sub group without any control and found MRSA" because all people have some exposure to both potential sources of MRSA. As I said before, it is in my personal best interest for sub-theraputic antibiotics to be banned becuase I support a sales force that sells allternatives to antibiotics. I'd just like to see the science done right instead of having the decision based on crap correlations.

Re: And this is kind of sad (1)

pepty (1976012) | 1 year,26 days | (#44177121)

You're worried about Salmonellosis? About 30 people die per year from salmonellosis vs about 20,000 from MRSA. If you're still more worried about Salmonella, you should appreciate banning of subtherapeutic antibiotics: anitbiotic resistant Salmonella is becoming increasingly common, including resistance to quinolones and even trimethoprim.

Re: And this is kind of sad (1)

crmarvin42 (652893) | 1 year,26 days | (#44177657)

Actually, the average is 83 per year for the US from 1990 to 2006, but your point is a valid one. However, we still allow antibiotics in animal feed in the US so we don't know what the rate would be if we banned them, and Salmonella was only one example of a food borne pathogen currently controlled by antibiotics in feed. There are studies looking at carcass contamination with various microbes with and without antibiotic use in livestock and the data shows increased risk. Furthermore, I was trying to draw attention to the fact that MRSA is not especially virulent among the healthy.

Re:And this is kind of sad (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44174419)

We are all going to die anyway so we might just as well allow murder. Is that what you mean?

Re:And this is kind of sad (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44176303)

WMD is a term of art, it means "America wants to charge this person with doing eeeevvvviiilll things". A firework is a WMD if America wants to prosecute you. (And a tactical nuke probably won't be, if it's America using it.)

Re:This is kind of fun (1)

firex726 (1188453) | 1 year,26 days | (#44174793)

Actually many of those denies will recognize it on a short term, or micro level, such as in this case; but somehow refuse to recognize it on a more macro level. Never heard them give the thought process behind this, other then sound bites.

Re:This is kind of fun (1)

Empiric (675968) | 1 year,26 days | (#44177127)

Contrary to what you might wish to tell yourself, there are essentially no Americans who don't "acknowledge evolution's existence".

I challenge you to find one who will bat an eye at the statement that bacteria evolve. That would be the meaning of your statement, and your statement is erroneous.

What is true is that a number of Americans do not believe evolution is -exclusively- causally creditable for human existence. Not really the same issue though, since to claim this (or make further peculiarly-consistent metaphysical inferences) is an untestable and unscientific non-sequitur anyway.

The wider challenge, though, is that this statement from the summary...

"...we all remain continuously at risk as our last line of antibiotics is wasted on animals."

from your apparent worldview, becomes meaningless in its objection to anything being "wasted on animals". There is thereby no distinction scientifically (and hence, from your view, any distinction at all) with the "we".

You're saying there isn't any? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44177329)

But lets forget that for the moment.

The issue isn't that denying evolution means denying bacteria evolve, though there are many who do, and refuse medication because praying to god will fix it unless he has a Greater Plan for it.

The issue is that if you deny macro evolution, you deny micro evolution but even the retards know that isn't going to fly, so pretend that they are able to do both.

Re:You're saying there isn't any? (1)

Empiric (675968) | 1 year,26 days | (#44177507)

The issue isn't that denying evolution means denying bacteria evolve, though there are many who do, and refuse medication because praying to god will fix it unless he has a Greater Plan for it.

Let's go with the "back claims with evidence" model here. Show some evidence of these "many" (or even one) who would deny bacteria evolve.

Are you saying there's only a particular subgroup that makes medically ill-advised choices? I'm not sure what your point is here. Similarly, even if an overwhelming percentage of, say, atheists would say a fellow atheist should get a given treatment regardless of cost, one decides for themselves it is, say, "too expensive", that speaks to the atheist viewpoint?

And no, it is in no way the case that denying "macro-evolution" denies "micro-evolution". Watch this:

I deny "macro-evolution".
I do not deny "micro-evolution".

Seems the fabric of reality did not split apart with the impossible conjunction of statements.

Let's tempt fate and try again...

I deny Mark won the state lottery five times in a row.
I don't deny Mark won the office hockey pool.

Still nothing. Interesting.

Re:This is kind of fun (2)

interkin3tic (1469267) | 1 year,26 days | (#44177237)

Creationists maintain there is a difference between bacteria, fruit flies, and mice undergoing observable evolution and humans evolving. They call one "microevolution" and the other "macroevolution."

It's impossible to deny that evolution happens. You can watch it happen, bacteria on antibiotic plates. It is possible to claim that has nothing to do with how humans came to be, all it requires is extreme stupidity and insistence that a holy book is the best way to understand facts.

Re:This is kind of fun (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44177527)

http://cid.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2013/05/30/cid.cit355.short

Re:This is kind of fun (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44179507)

i would call the FDA, Obama's Terrorists, given their policies and how it WILL impact people.

If you're going to date a farmer... (2)

Burz (138833) | 1 year,26 days | (#44173407)

make sure s/he is organically certified. :)

Re:If you're going to date a farmer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44173487)

19% of factory farm workers from factory farms that don't use antibiotics also tested positive. Cruelty free please.

Re:If you're going to date a farmer... (1)

kamapuaa (555446) | 1 year,26 days | (#44173569)

Just spray them with lysol when they get home.

Re:If you're going to date a farmer... (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | 1 year,26 days | (#44174241)

If you're going to date a synthetic why pick a farmer?

"behind the curve" (0, Flamebait)

tlambert (566799) | 1 year,26 days | (#44173449)

"Europe has long ago banned the use of antibiotics in livestock, but the FDA remains behind the curve with a partial ban."

So... you have a corresponding European study that shows that the conclusions are correct by proving their factor farm workers *son't* carry drug resistant staph? Or is this another case of "correlation is not causation"?

Re:"behind the curve" (4, Funny)

Pseudonym Authority (1591027) | 1 year,26 days | (#44173475)

You have no understanding on bacteria, vaccination, or statistics. Please do not voice your uninformed opinion ever again.

That said, let me explain it to you: bacteria wants to live. Bacteria will evolve to survive in places where it is not welcome. The bacteria are simple organisms, and don't like to waste space in their DNA on stupid shit just for fun. The presence of vaccines in places that they want to live is usually a problem, but they adapt to it. If the vaccines were not there, there would be no evolutionary pressure to evade the vaccines. Understand? Or do I need to break out the image macros, as stupid memes like `curolation =! causashon' is probably a better learning tool for you.

Re:"behind the curve" (1, Interesting)

ttucker (2884057) | 1 year,26 days | (#44173617)

You have no understanding on bacteria, vaccination, or statistics. Please do not voice your uninformed opinion ever again.

You have no understanding of science! Correlation in fact does not provide sufficient evidence for a causation hypothesis. It is not just a meme. For example, a differential hypothesis might be: industrial farm workers spending more time in the hospital (lets suppose that factory farms are more dangerous than organic ones) could easily explain a higher presence of drug resistant bacteria in the test population. Would it be simple to further demonstrate the hypothesis stating that the MRSA actually came from the livestock? No, it would not... think DNA profiling of the bacterial strains. Is it appropriate to berate someones intelligence for remaining skeptical of an under-supported claim? No, not really.

Re:"behind the curve" (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44173707)

You don't understand. It's pro-Europe and anti-US, and we're on Slashdot. It must be true, who needs proof?

Re:"behind the curve" (5, Insightful)

Teun (17872) | 1 year,26 days | (#44173789)

The fact the claim of over-indulgence in pre-emptive antibiotics use in cattle is a cause of resistant bacteria strains affecting humans is under-reported in the mainstream US media does not mean it is not supported by reputable scientific studies.

This has nothing to do with pro EU or anti-US but everything with pro-shady business or anti-consumer.

Re:"behind the curve" (1)

evilviper (135110) | 1 year,26 days | (#44174321)

The fact the claim of over-indulgence in pre-emptive antibiotics use in cattle is a cause of resistant bacteria strains affecting humans is under-reported in the mainstream US media does not mean it is not supported by reputable scientific studies.

Care to point me to one of these studies, because I've never been able to find them. Everything I've found has been very wishy-washy speculation which isn't ever able to connect the dots between animals and humans.

Quote:

"Evidence for the transfer of so-called superbugs from animals to humans has been scant, and most evidence shows that pathogens of concern in human populations originated in humans and are maintained there, with rare cases of transference to humans"
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antibiotic_resistance#Role_of_other_animals [wikipedia.org]

Has anyone looked? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44174467)

I think it was Feynman who said, paraphrasing from memory, when someone says "Evidence for this is lacking" you should ask yourself: Has anyone looked?

Re:"behind the curve" (3, Interesting)

ericloewe (2129490) | 1 year,26 days | (#44174525)

First of all, don't blindly trust wikipedia.

Second, drug-resistant bacteria do develop in animals given antibiotics for no real reason (other than the magical, inexplicable enhanced growth == profit margins). Bacteria can be easily transferred from animals to humans. The majority of them is harmless, probably. But, if something nasty does mutate and gains resistance to certain antibiotics, it getting transferred (it will, sooner or later) to humans may be a very big problem.

To make things worse, bacteria like to share genetic material, which helps (among other things) spread immunities to other bacteria.

It's not a matter of trying to connect the dots. It is possible. Which means it will probably happen, given enough occurrences.

Let's assume that you're right. Where do antibiotics go after they leave an organism? A good portion ends up in water supplies, so the antibiotics get further distributed, ending up in humans. Combine small doses of antibiotics with an infection and you have the perfect environment for the development of antibiotic resistance.

But again, let's assume that won't happen. What's the advantage of using antibiotics for no reason, other than somehow making animals grow faster? A larger profit margin for the owner, perhaps.

It boils down to the very likely possibility of some drug-resistant bacteria to show up versus someone's profit margin.

Re:"behind the curve" (1)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | 1 year,26 days | (#44176163)

Well to be fair when you have a feed lot with 1000 head of cattle on it packed in nose to nose like sardines knee deep in their own filth there is a good reason to pump them full of antibiotics. The antibiotics don't make the animals grow faster but enable the conditions to fatten them up quicker. The steroids they give them also help them grow quicker and larger as well.

Re:"behind the curve" (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44177051)

Drug-resistant bacteria develop in animals given antibiotics for valid reasons as well, that simply happens at a much slower rate.

Any use of antibiotics, unless 100% effective, will promote drug-resistant bacteria.

Corn (4, Informative)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | 1 year,26 days | (#44174655)

Cattle will have impressive weight gains when you feed them (heavily subsidized) corn. Until it starts to kill them, as their digestive system didn't evolve (there's that word again) to process an industrialized grain. But you can stave off that death for a while with heavy doses of antibiotics. Just long enough to get them to the slaughterhouse.

Bon Appetit.

Re:Corn (1)

LDAPMAN (930041) | 1 year,26 days | (#44175175)

If you actually knew anything about producing cattle you would know that nobody feeds them significant amounts of corn for any amount of time. It's simply too expensive. Cattle spend the majority of their short lives eating hay, alfalfa, or other roughage. The small amounts of corn that supplement their diet before they go to the feed lot is not enough to harm them even if it was actually toxic. It's no more toxic to them than it is to you. In fact, feeding them too much corn negatively impacts their growth.

http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/ansci/beef/as1238.pdf [ndsu.edu]
http://www.meatmythcrushers.com/myths/myth-feeding-cattle-corn-is-unnatural.html [meatmythcrushers.com]

You really think feeding them more corn for the few weeks they are at the feedlot is significant?

So they don't feed ANY corn to animals??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44175429)

Or did you mean "for a long period of time" when you said "for any amount of time"?

Because you need to check what time they are fast-fed corn and how long they take to die on such a diet, and how much extra weight on the hoof they put on during that time. If you feed your cow 100kg of corn in a week, it may die in a fortnight, but as long as you get it to market within that week difference, you're ahead of the game.

And if applying antibiotics to otherwise healthy cows (i.e. cows that would be healthy if you hadn't poured 100kg of corn down their gullet for a week) makes the period you can feed them corn extend to 10 days with that same one week period before death, you can give them 150kg of corn, increasing your profit by 50kg and the difference between the cost of 50kg of corn and the antibiotics and the price of a cow that much heavier.

Re:"behind the curve" (2)

Dorianny (1847922) | 1 year,26 days | (#44174817)

This has nothing to do with pro EU or anti-US but everything with pro-shady business or anti-consumer.

Business are very good at meeting consumer demands and what consumers want is the cheapest piece of meat you can possibly get. There is plenty of meat raised antibiotic-free available for sale and if the majority of consumers chose to buy that instead of the cheapest cut than you would see business quickly changing their practices to fill consumer demand.

Re:"behind the curve" (1)

taiwanjohn (103839) | 1 year,26 days | (#44174875)

The root of the problem is the "modern" use of mono-species CAFOs [wikipedia.org] instead of the more traditional methods of multi-species pastured livestock. Honestly, even if you set out to intentionally breed drug resistant microbes, you really couldn't devise a much better scheme for it than a CAFO. This is doubly sad because CAFOs are far less efficient in terms of fossil fuel inputs, and use just as much land anyway (if you include all the land used to grow the feed grain, etc.).

The future of livestock production lies in the work of Allan Savory [youtube.com] and Joel Salatin [youtube.com] . With intensive rotational grazing which mimics the natural behavior of wild herbivores, they achieve impressive yields with minimal infrastructure, NO chemical inputs, NO antibiotics, using only rainfall for water. Furthermore, their methods actually increase the topsoil, rather than depleting it, which has the extra benefit of sequestering massive amounts of CO2.

Re:"behind the curve" (1)

Methuseus (468642) | 1 year,26 days | (#44176665)

The problem with this is that it will cut into profits. Even though it's better for all, humans and food animals alike, it will take a lot to make it happen.

Re:"behind the curve" (1)

ttucker (2884057) | 1 year,26 days | (#44176485)

The fact the claim of over-indulgence in pre-emptive antibiotics use in cattle is a cause of resistant bacteria strains affecting humans is under-reported in the mainstream US media does not mean it is not supported by reputable scientific studies.

This has nothing to do with pro EU or anti-US but everything with pro-shady business or anti-consumer.

No, the transfer of antibiotic resistant bacteria from livestock hosts to humans is in fact poorly demonstrated. Most scientists and other humans think it should be true, and so fairly vehemently defend the claim. They are probably right, but the science is weak.

Re:"behind the curve" (1)

cryptolemur (1247988) | 1 year,26 days | (#44173817)

But then you'd have to explain how the drug-resistant bacteria appeared on the hospitals, if it's not due to overuse of drugs. If it is due drugs, then you'd have to explain why it does not apply to factory farms with conditions akin to hospitals.

Re:"behind the curve" (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44176579)

But then you'd have to explain how the drug-resistant bacteria appeared on the hospitals, if it's not due to overuse of drugs. If it is due drugs, then you'd have to explain why it does not apply to factory farms with conditions akin to hospitals.

The sticky bit that you are still conveniently ignoring is not really that antibiotic resistant bacteria are developing in cattle, that is well demonstrated, but whether that bacteria is ever transferred to humans, and if it is in fact pathogenic to them.

Re:"behind the curve" (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44173947)

Good grief. That correlation does not on its own imply causation is trivially obvious. Three lines of work with Bayes theorem and you're done.

But correlation plus a proven causative mechanism does actually imply causation, and that's what we're talking about here.

Re:"behind the curve" (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44176731)

Good grief. That correlation does not on its own imply causation is trivially obvious. Three lines of work with Bayes theorem and you're done.

But correlation plus a proven causative mechanism does actually imply causation, and that's what we're talking about here.

Great, we know that antibiotic resistant bacteria grow in livestock... everybody knows that, the science is good. The study is questioning if that is mostly a problem for cows, of if the bacteria actually transfer to humans. It seems to imply yes, and logically the answer probably is yes, but the study seems to have done a really shitty job demonstrating correlation. Finding MRSA in farm workers is simply not enough to provide proof (which does not actually exist in real science) that they acquired it from animals. Good scientists are rigorous, develop strong evidence even for the obvious, and do not allow some dogma to drive their every conclusion.

Re:"behind the curve" (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44174889)

farm workers aren't the only people that spend more time in hospitals as opposed to other individuals (such as doctors, nurses, etc.). If your hypothesis would be true, farm workers wouldn't be the only group of people with a statistically significant higher percentage of carrying the antibiotic-resistant bacteria. However, since it does appear to be only farmers it has to be something that they do that is specific to *only* farmers, which is not that they are present in hospitals more since there are other groups of people that are present in hospitals more as well. Your hypothesis fails after deeper thinking for about 10 seconds. Other groups spend disproportionately more time in hospitals as well (and thats assuming your conjecture that farm workers DO indeed spend more time in hospitals). So, there seems to be no correlation involved with being present in hospitals, therefore, they can most likely be ruled out, or at least put below the other scientifically sound reasoning of antibiotics being overused and creating these bacteria in farm animals (which they have actually shown that these bacteria do indeed breed there). So there *is* a reason to assume its present in farm animals AND there *is* a reason to find the antibiotics there (as its already documented that they use it) as opposed to there being much more controlled circumstances in hospitals where you can expect to find those two things in the hospital BUT you can generally expect to find better controls. I don't know why people are fighting this. It's been shown what the overuse of antibiotics does. That's not in question. So, why shouldn't we be controlling its use, especially when its being used on people/animals that don't need them (overuse isn't only found in farm animals, but its probably the largest misuse in any one industry and is therefore more easily fixed as well).
 
It's not under-supported. Overuse of antibiotics DOES create antibiotic resistant bacteria. *THAT* is already accepted to be true.

Re:"behind the curve" (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44176627)

farm workers aren't the only people that spend more time in hospitals as opposed to other individuals (such as doctors, nurses, etc.). If your hypothesis would be true, farm workers wouldn't be the only group of people with a statistically significant higher percentage of carrying the antibiotic-resistant bacteria. However, since it does appear to be only farmers it has to be something that they do that is specific to *only* farmers,

You really don't think there would be a statistically higher rate of MRSA in nose swabs of doctors and nurses?!? really? Come on. Hospitals are where most people get a MRSA infection, that is a fact.

Re:"behind the curve" (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44173931)

If you're gonna be that rude, you better know what the fuck you're talking about yourself, and since your mental model involves non-sentient bacteria "wanting" things, and individual organisms adapting, you've proven that you don't.

Understanding common courtesy will get you a lot further in life than any of this STEM shit you don't really understand either.

Re:"behind the curve" (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44173993)

Wow, if Richard Dawkins ever heard that, he'd dig a grave just so he could lie in it and turn around.
- Bacteria don't "want" anything.
    Really. They do not have the brain cells to "want" to live.
- I've never seen or heard of a "Bacteria not welcome here" sign.
- Bacteria don't care about space on their DNA
- The organism bacteria does not adapt - only the Borg can do that. The species also does not adapt.
    Outside influences may change the balance of which genes are more successful at procreation.

Think of evolution as an FPS in which all life forms are NPCs: Evolution shoots whatever it sees, and only those living things good at hiding from the shooter and making more of themselves will continue to survive.

Case in point: In vaccine-rich environments, bacteria with genes that make them less susceptible to the vaccine are more likely to survive than others. That means that there's less of the susceptible bacteria left to procreate.
Now if there's another gene, that makes a susceptible bacteria procreate like crazy, this might offset its disadvantage. If there's no such gene, the least susceptible genes will come out on top.

How do you know that? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44174481)

"- Bacteria don't "want" anything."

How do you know that?

Do you talk to them?

"- I've never seen or heard of a "Bacteria not welcome here" sign."

Please Wash Your Hands.

"- The organism bacteria does not adapt"

Bacteria are a clade, *A Bacterium* is an organism.

Re:"behind the curve" (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44175389)

Says the man that doesn't know the difference between vaccines and antibiotics

Re:"behind the curve" (1)

tlambert (566799) | 1 year,26 days | (#44176841)

That said, let me explain it to you: bacteria wants to live. Bacteria will evolve to survive in places where it is not welcome. The bacteria are simple organisms, and don't like to waste space in their DNA on stupid shit just for fun. The presence of vaccines in places that they want to live is usually a problem, but they adapt to it. If the vaccines were not there, there would be no evolutionary pressure to evade the vaccines. Understand? Or do I need to break out the image macros, as stupid memes like `curolation =! causashon' is probably a better learning tool for you.

I think you need to prove causation in order to claim that what the FDA is doing is wrong and what European regulatory agencies are doing is right. Right now, we have a declaration by the OP of their opinion to that effect, with no supporting evidence.

I am not arguing that overuse of antibiotics in an organism does not result in drug resistant strains within that organism. However, it is a leap of faith to attribute an increase in drug resistant bacteria within a human population which:

(A) Works long hours to the point of physical exhaustion, and therefore, reduced immune system effectiveness
(B) Works in unsanitary conditions
(C) Works around sharp objects and unfinished construction materials on a daily basis
(C.1) Has a tendency towards worker-worker blood contact due to cuts, scrapes, and abrasions
(D) Tends to have common traffic corridors
(E) Tends to have common areas for food consumption
(F) Tends to have common sanitary areas, such as showers and locker rooms
(G) Tends to share common tools or materials due to expense

I read the study, and did not see these factors being removed from possible bias,

I would like to see a corresponding study for European factory farm workers.

Europe does not have the rules, which the OP implies it has, against use of antibiotics; what it does have is a set of rules about *which* antibiotics may be used in this manner, and the antibiotics for livestock and human populations are intended to be, in as much as it is possible for them to be, a non-intersecting set.

A corresponding European study would, were the OP's hypothesis (which is all it is without evidence at this point) correct, be expected to have a similar profile for infections resistant to the antibiotics used on livestock, and not resistant to the antibiotics used on humans.

In other words, you'd expect the T(treatable+untreatable) infections to be the same in both populations, IFF a factory far using antibiotics were a prerequisite for development of antibiotic resistant strains, and you'd expect a difference in ratios of T(treatable) and T(untreatable) to be different between the populations.

Just to be crystal clear about the correct experimental design in this case, you would need to randomly sample a statistically significant portion of the population of individuals with MRSA infections in both populations by culturing the infection in laboratory conditions, rather than simply treating it, and then you would need to compare each culture for antibiotic resistance profile to different antibiotics to see if the European MRSA was predominantly resistant to antibiotic drugs used on livestock, but not on humans.

Participation in this study would have to imply a treatment protocol change in order to obtain bacterial samples from farm workers presenting with infection.

I really can't believe you are claiming ignorance on my behalf, when you are unable to cite such a study one way or the other, or to see the (obvious to me) possibility of an experiment that could more or less definitively answer the question on way or the other -- rather than just toting out the same old, tired argument against factory farming in the U.S. while implying at the same time it's no longer practiced in Europe (it is practice there).

Thanks.

Re:"behind the curve" (1)

Zeromous (668365) | 1 year,26 days | (#44177695)

=! != DOES NOT EQUAL

Re: "behind the curve" (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44173477)

You mean drug-resistant staph causes antibiotics?

No, moron. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44174021)

Antibiotic drugs cause drug-resistant staph.

They have adapted to the problem and, since they don't require expensive infrastructure to live and multiply like they do (unlike humans now), they are much more successful at it.

Antibiotics not banned in Europe (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44173491)

Contrary to what it say above, antibiotics are not completely banned in Europe for preemptive use in farm animal production. However, there is a list of approved antibiotics for such uses, and relevance of the antibiotics for human medicine is a factor in the rules.

Here is a link to the Danish treatment guidelines: http://www.foedevarestyrelsen.dk/english/SiteCollectionDocuments/25_PDF_word_filer%20til%20download/05kontor/Behandlingsvejledning_2011_engelsk.xls [foedevarestyrelsen.dk] (warning: Excel). In column J there is a ranking of relevance to human medicine.

The web turning out to be a dream (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44173839)

My fear: The web turning out to be a dream after all and finding myself back in back-office development where pre-meetings are NOT a joke from Dilbert but bleak reality.

Having to go back to "real" development were every project takes years and "fast" means next quarter. Where people write binders of requirements and design docs and STILL write crappy code and think a project where there are NO indexes on any fields in the database is production ready. Where testers test a system with 3 records in the database and are then offended when others write a database filler and claim the system is going to be a bit on the slow side (months to insert a new record).

And you might think I am kidding. I am NOT.

Not that the web world doesn't have idiots but at least nobody takes it for granted that a project should be allowed to run for half a decade before the developers are to be judged as idiots who should be executed for the public good.

Re:The web turning out to be a dream (1, Funny)

Demonoid-Penguin (1669014) | 1 year,26 days | (#44174029)

My dream - a Slashdot not over-run by morons.... Hey!, what the fuck, where did everyone go? (and how come I am not on Slashdot anymore? (Oh wait....)

Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (2)

12WTF$ (979066) | 1 year,26 days | (#44173971)

It's what's for dinner!

Re:Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (1)

Yaotzin (827566) | 1 year,26 days | (#44174499)

What's for dessert? Vancomycin?

No, Vanc is what the staph has for dessert (1)

Marrow (195242) | 1 year,26 days | (#44175855)

At this point, they love the stuff.

How sad and ironic... (2, Informative)

Bearhouse (1034238) | 1 year,26 days | (#44174027)

To think that farm workers provided a vital clue to eradicating smallpox, when Jenner (and others) noticed that after infection with the less dangerous 'cowpox' they were effectively immune.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Jenner [wikipedia.org]

Mankind's ability to abuse and abase the scientific gifts of such great men is seemingly limitless.

Re:How sad and ironic... (2)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | 1 year,26 days | (#44175455)

This has to be the most mentally confused post I've seen in quite some time.

First, because a long time ago something happened with farm workers means that today another event has some sort of relevance? I'm not seeing it here.

Second, cowpox is a virus, antibiotics cure bacterial infections. They weren't developed until the 1930s.

And this mental vomit is modded up to +4 Informative?!? WTF it has nothing to do with anything.

Vegan (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44174045)

Which is why human beings aren't supposed to eat animal products, of any kind - this is just another example of what happens when you have 6 billion large 'omnivores' on the planet, who should all be herbivores.

Still, you'll carry on eating animal products because everybody else does, and that is the ONLY reason.

If everybody on Earth was vegan, would you be desperately trying to find some milk, eggs and 'meat' to eat?

Re:Vegan (1)

Wonda (457426) | 1 year,26 days | (#44174433)

No, because you just said I'd be a vegan.
Now if everybody else turned vegan and I did not, the answer would be yes!

*shrugs* (1)

lightknight (213164) | 1 year,26 days | (#44174349)

So feed the cattle some garlic, or whatever derivative agrees with a ruminant's digestive system. The allistatin in the cloves is an antibiotic, and a broad spectrum one at that.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allistatin

Now, whether anyone wants to be around cattle after being force fed garlic is another matter...the smell will probably be quite frightful.

Re:*shrugs* (1)

ericloewe (2129490) | 1 year,26 days | (#44174529)

Around cattle, garlic might not be the worst smell by a longshot.

Re:*shrugs* (1)

idunham (2852899) | 1 year,26 days | (#44175581)

I don't think the smell is that bad-it's not a complaint at Chico State's organic dairy, where they use garlic for that reason.

As a nurse in a Level I trauma center (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44174551)

I can say most healthcare professionals carry MRSA. Not that MRSA is any more virulent that regular staph, it's only more resistant to some antibiotics. You just need Vanc or some some newer antibiotic to treat it. Many contagions will not harm an otherwise healthy individual.

so be a vegetarian (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44174613)

i mean, youve got two choices.

mass outbreaks of zoonotic diseases, including flu pandemics

or just quit eating meat

the human race - wiped out becuase people enjoyed hamburgers.
 

Re:so be a vegetarian (2)

zwarte piet (1023413) | 1 year,26 days | (#44175087)

If people would eat meat once or twice a week and buy organic meat when they do, the problem wouldn't exist either.

Re:so be a vegetarian (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44175143)

You've got THREE choices. Vegetarians are failed vegans.

Preventing Antibiotic Resistance Act of 2013 (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44174677)

Senator Feinstein, yesterday, proposed the Preventing Antibiotic Resistance Act of 2013 [senate.gov] specifically designed to stop low-dose antibiotic use in animals (used primarily to increase slaughter weights and NOT used for actual therapy). Check it out.

It's worth pointing out that the actual research in PLOS ONE that the summary links to is specifically drawing a comparison between farm workers in antibiotic free farms and industrial farms. Industrial farms are kind of screwing us over.

who are their biggest customers? (1)

Marrow (195242) | 1 year,26 days | (#44175897)

Is most of the meat going to the meat section of the supermarket, to tacobell and wendys? Or does it just go everywhere.

what a false statement (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44176269)

Thanks to large industrial farming operations, we all remain continuously at risk as our last line of antibiotics is wasted on animals.

I got news for ya buddy, this is because of the medical industries blatant abuse of antibiotics in humans that has caused this, and even if they used antibiotics in the most urgent or dire of situations this will still come back to bite the human race. I cant give a citation over the numbers of humans vs animals or livestock, but humans are in the lead by a wide margin when it comes to abuse of antibiotics..

It's all bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44177119)

This whole fear of drug-resistant bacteria being "caused" by antibiotics has never had any validity, and this proves it. Evolution doesn't work that way. People who think something intentionally evolves as a response to its environment have got it entirely wrong. Drug-resistant bacteria don't get caused by drugs, they happen all the time anyway, and are merely selected (ie. natural selection) by the presence of drugs. Once out of the influence of antibiotics, they lose out to the normal strains, and the bacteria as a whole revert to their normal non-resistant form. If that weren't the case, any given bacterium would have already developed and kept drug-resistant traits.

The short of it is this: if you look at billions of bacteria, you're going to find one that is resistant to antibiotics, even if it has never been exposed to antibiotics at all. That's what this "research" shows.

It's the ultimate in cost shifting (1)

WOOFYGOOFY (1334993) | 1 year,26 days | (#44177639)

Engage in practices which are proven to eventually cause a trillion dollar worldwide public health crisis

Same practices make you marginally more money.. enough for another yacht for you and 100k a year preschool for each of your lobbyists' children , a bunch of plus 40k a month alimony payments all around...

No missing step!

Profit !

The FDA is cock sucking bitch boy of corporate interest. This is what happens when you vote in people who hate government- they stock the government with people determined to undermine the mission of government.

It's the revolving door from industry to the government Once you've worked in the government, you should be forbidden from working in industry for a decade. You can live on a "thanks for serving your nation" pension. Anyone who doesn't like the sound of that is the problem in the first place.

The human way (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44180321)

Do something, and keep taking advantage of it ad nauseam until not only is it no longer helpful, but it leaves us in a much worse place than whence we began. Yes, this is one way to learn, but god forbid we could exercise a little foresight and respect for those things which we don't understand which we perceive as "awful".

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