Antibiotic resistance is the reason for this haunting quote from Dr. Margaret Chan who is the Director-General of the World Health Organization.
At the same conference Dr. Chan stated, "We are losing our first-line antimicrobial. Replacement treatments are more costly, more toxic, need much longer durations of treatment, and may require treatments in intensive care units,"
This topic of antibiotic resistance is another example of the pressing need for committed action from the consumers of the world to take a unified stand to eradicate a building health crisis.
Alexander Fleming is generally credited with beginning the process of developing the antibiotics that would become so commonplace in our lives. His original work would lead to full implementation of penicillin. During World War II, this antibiotic saved thousands of lives. For many victims, the actual inflicted injury was treatable. It was the infections that followed which too often dealt the fatal blows.
Ironically Dr. Fleming issued a message back in 1945 regarding antibiotic resistance. He suggested then that a time could come when these miracle cures would cease to be effective.
Over time, antibiotics have been the method of choice to stop a multitude of bacteria caused illnesses. I don't think anyone could argue about their effectiveness. For such a long time, doctors could eliminate infections by just sending a patient to the pharmacy. A routine antibiotic would solve the problem.
But things are changing, in large part because of overuse of these "miracle drugs."
The Centers For Disease Control offers this assessment.
"Taking antibiotics for viral infections, such as colds, flu, most sore throats, bronchitis, and many sinus or ear infections:
* Will not cure the infection
* Will not keep other people from getting sick
* Will not help you or your child feel better
* May cause unnecessary and harmful side effects
* May contribute to antibiotic resistance, which is when bacteria are able to resist the effects of an antibiotic and continue to cause harm."
It is very likely that excess antibiotic usage is paving the way for the growth of super-bacteria that may propel us to a time where Dr. Chan's quote at the top of the page becomes reality.
While we worry about too many prescriptions, we are missing the biggest threat to the most people. Yes, it is true that taking antibiotics for viral type illness isn't effective. And yes, the level of world travel does certainly spread the risk around. And yes, this increased risk means that even hospitals can become carriers of antibiotic resistance powered bacteria.
But I don't believe any of these are the biggest risk factors. Did you know that 80% of antibiotic sales in America are made to the food industry? This overwhelming volume is given to animals that are raised to provide food for our world.
Some are given to help cure sick animals. Much of it is dispensed to keep them from getting sick and to fatten them up prior to processing them for shipment around the world.
In a column written by Richard Conniff, author of "The Species Seekers: Heroes, Fools and the Mad Pursuit of Life On Earth," he writes that the FDA announced in 2010 that 28.7 million pounds of antibiotics "were devoted to livestock production." Here is a link to that very interesting page.
The CDC also reports that there are about 12 antibiotic resistant pathogens that are considered to be "serious threats." Here are four that are found in food.
* E Coli
Here are some startling numbers discovered by the Environmental Working Group. Antibiotic resistant bacteria was found in food purchased in stores at these percentages back in 2011.
* Ground turkey-81%
* Pork chops-69%
* Ground Beef-55%
The story hasn't improved since that year.
It happened because of the growth of massive factory farms. Huge complexes that jam animals into tight spaces and pump them full of growth hormones and antibiotics to keep the chain moving. Add in the addition of grain grown from genetically modified seeds and you have increased chances of toxins in our food supply. We eat what they eat. Or in this case, what is injected into them.
It happened because the FDA hasn't been strong enough in demanding a change. And it happened because the big drug companies that sell these drugs don't want to lose the profits.
The Monsanto conspiracy members continue to dump glyphosate on to the crops, regardless of possible health issues, causing the growth of super-weeds that require stronger poison to hold them back. We now face antibiotic resistance that threatens to bring back serious illness from preventable causes.
But profits from both dangerous sources continue to flow into big pharmacy company coffers.
We have some ways to defeat them. Six major school districts have made the move to only use antibiotic-free chicken in their lunch programs. Some major food companies are hinting at seeing the need to cut out antibiotics. We need to help them with this decision making.
We can help them by refusing to buy their products until they clean up their act. Not in the distant future. Right now. We can demand leadership from the federal government. Parts of Europe have already taken steps to cut out antibiotic usage on healthy animals.
This is another of those fully preventable types of sickness. We've learned how to avoid heart attacks. We know how to reverse or avoid type 2 diabetes. In his book "Grain Brain" Dr. David Perlmutter showed us how diabetes is linked to Alzheimer's disease.
And this looming crisis with antibiotic resistance can also be avoided. It's the same as the toxins poured on our crops. The weeds became smarter than the poison, so tougher poison is needed. With bacteria related illness, the germ becomes tougher than the cure because of over-use.
Here is a chart from the Centers For Disease Control that helps explains the process. Be sure to note the two sentences from the CDC at the bottom of the image. I wonder if the beef,poultry and pork factories missed those notes?
So the cure is one again at our disposal. We just need to impress our will upon those who legislate, regulate and create. The first two can be managed with our votes and the third by our wallets.
The groundswell of ordinary people doing their part can eradicate this problem. Just like always. We can change the statistics listed below.