A stubborn, hard-to-treat “super bug” causes more than 450,000 infections a year and is directly responsible for nearly 15,000 deaths in the United States, a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed today.
Clostridium difficile, or C. Diff, is a bacterial infection that leads to inflammation of the colon, the agency explained. The bacterium is found in feces, the agency said, and is spread by hand contact or contaminated surfaces.
"It’s the most common infection picked up in hospitals," said ABC News Chief Health and Medical Editor Dr. Richard Besser. "The thing about this infection is you can pick it up and it can cause no problems. Then, you take an antibiotic and it takes over."
More than 80 percent of C. Diff deaths were people 65 or older, with residents of nursing homes especially vulnerable to infection, the report said.
“C. difficile infections cause immense suffering and death for thousands of Americans each year,” CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said.
Hospital stays and especially long-term antibiotic use seem to up the risk of C. Diff infection.
“Antibiotics kill off beneficial bacteria in the gut which fight infection, leaving space for C. Diff to come in and release its toxins,” explained Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert with Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee.
Studies show that more than half of patients receive antibiotics at some point in their stay, and up to 50 percent of antibiotic use is unnecessary. Over-prescribing antibiotics, combined with poor infection control, may allow the spread of C. diff and other bacteria within a facility and to other facilities when a sick patient is transferred, the CDC report speculated.
The CDC report said preventing and controlling C. Diff should be a national priority. The infection costs up to $4.8 billion each year in excess health care costs, the agency reported. - ABC News
Nearly 80 percent of antibiotics consumed in the United States go to livestock farms. Meanwhile, antibiotic-resistant pathogens affecting people are on the rise. Is there a connection here? No need for alarm, insists the National Pork Producers Council. Existing regulations "provide adequate safeguards against antibiotic resistance," the group insists on its site. It even enlists the Centers for Disease Control in its effort to show that "animal antibiotic use is safe for everyone," claiming that the CDC has found "no proven link to antibiotic treatment failure in humans due to antibiotic use in animals."
So move along, nothing to see here, right? Not so fast. On Monday, the CDC came out with a new report called "Antibiotic resistance threats in the United States, 2013," available here. And far from exonerating the meat industry and its voracious appetite for drugs, the report spotlights it as a driver of resistance. Check out the left side of this infographic drawn from the report:
Note the text on the bottom: "These drugs should be only used to treat infections." Compare that to the National Pork Producers Council's much more expansive conception of proper uses of antibiotics in livestock facilities: "treatment of illness, prevention of disease, control of disease, and nutritional efficiency of animals." Dosing animals with daily hits of antibiotics to prevent disease only makes sense, of course, if you're keeping animals on an industrial scale.
At the 46th annual Monett Beef Conference, producers were reminded to look ahead because the future in the beef industry is bright but will come with certain challenges.
Craig Payne, University of Missouri director of veterinary medical extension, reminded producers antibiotic label changes are coming in December 2016. The final rules from the Federal Drug Administration have yet to be released.
“If you’re involved in the cattle industry, there’s a chance this will affect you one way or another,” Payne said.
The changes stem from consumer concerns antibiotic use in livestock will lead to antibiotic-resistant “superbugs,” Payne explained. The theory is fairly plausible, he added. It is possible to see an emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria if antibiotics are overused in an operation. However, no conclusive evidence of transference from use in animals to the human population has occurred, Payne pointed out.