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This Forgotten WWI Antiseptic Could Be the Key to Fighting Antibiotic Resistance

A simple antiseptic made from coal tar that was used in WWI hospitals could be the answer to the world’s growing antibiotic resistance problem, according to Science Alert. Once used for everything from urinary tract infections to open wounds to STDs, this substance — which was replaced by penicillin — is getting a fresh look from scientists.

The research is ongoing and the product is nowhere near ready to market, but one thing remains true: We are in the middle of an antibiotic apocalypse that has 23,000 Americans dying every year from drug-resistant infections. And, according to the largest, most thorough review of the drug resistance problem to date, by 2050 antibiotic-resistant disease will claim the lives of 10 million people around the world each year.

One main reason for this is the indiscriminate use of antibiotics in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), which significantly contributes to the development of drug-resistant pathogens, which can then migrate into the human population via a number of exposure routes.

Besides agricultural and medicinal use of antibiotics, common household products containing antimicrobial ingredients also contribute to growing drug-resistance. Triclosan is one such ingredient, and I recommended avoiding triclosan for many years before the media picked up on it.

You can help stop antibiotic-resistant diseases by refusing to purchase CAFO products and buying your food from responsible, high-quality and sustainable sources that use organic feeding and growth processes. Also, avoid all antibacterial products and use plain old soap and water for cleaning yourself and your home — and use antibiotics yourself only when prescribed and absolutely necessary.
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