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New Test Rapidly Identifies Antibiotic-Resistant ‘Superbugs’

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola

A new, inexpensive test that identifies antibiotic-resistant superbugs in minutes has been developed by scientists at UC Berkeley, giving doctors a delay-free venue for determining which drug — or not — to prescribe when treating a sick patient. In addition, the tests could help limit the spread of antibiotic-resistant superbugs, Berkeley News reports. This particular test works with a urine sample.

Antibiotic-resistant superbugs are growing at such an alarming rate that we basically have very few antibiotics of “last resort” to turn to — and as we lose antibiotics to use when you’re sick, more and more people are dying. In the U.S. alone, antibiotic-resistant pathogens are conservatively estimated to cause at least 2 million infections annually, leading to 23,000 deaths every year.

And not to add insult to injury, but the number of drug-resistant infections are rising exponentially, with urinary tract infections, tuberculosis and sexually transmitted infections standing out as the most difficult to treat. What’s worse, the primary cause for this man-made epidemic is the widespread misuse of antibiotics — drugs used to combat bacterial infections in humans and animals — which are being prescribed even when we know they aren’t going to work.

Viral infections, for example, cannot be treated with antibiotics since they only kill bacteria, yet many of you have likely taken a course of antibiotics for an ear infection, or a bout of cold or flu. Antibiotics have also been routinely used for growth promotion purposes in livestock, and this practice continues in the U.S. to this day, despite the well-known risks.

In fact, the majority of antibiotics in the U.S. aren’t used in health care settings for humans at all: Instead, they’re used in industrial agriculture, and despite promises to cut back on these uses, Big Ag producers running concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) don’t seem to be intent on cutting back any time soon.

The truth is antibiotics for hog operations in the U.S. are prescribed at nearly the same rate as for people — even though evidence shows that administering antibiotics to pigs isn’t working for disease prevention. The hog industry isn’t alone in this, though: CAFO chicken, beef and dairy industries are contributing to antibiotic use and resistance too.

In the human world, a 2015 report commissioned by U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron estimated that by 2050 antibiotic resistance will have killed 300 million people, with the annual global death toll reaching 10 million, and the global cost for treatment reaching $100 trillion.

In other words, besides a quick test to determine what bacteria or virus may be making you sick, we also need a quick way to stop misuse of the antibiotics we have left. And, the quicker that happens, the better, for all of us.

You can help in this effort and prompt real change industrywide by buying only sustainably sourced, antibiotic-free meat and other animal products, and by choosing foods from farmers doing it the right way.

I encourage you to either buy direct from a trusted farm or look for the American Grassfed Association (AGA) logo, a much-needed grass fed standards and certification for American-grown grass fed meat and dairy.

The standard allows for greater transparency and conformity and is intended to ensure the humane treatment of animals and meet consumer expectations about grass fed meat, including beef and pork, and dairy, while being feasible for small farmers to achieve. An AGA logo on a product lets you know the animals were fed a lifetime diet of 100 percent forage, were raised on pasture (not in confinement) and were not treated with hormones or antibiotics.

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