WHO Sounds Alarm Over Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria

Originally published at NRDC Switchboard, written by Jonathan Kaplan.

Yesterday the World Health Organization issued a landmark 256 page assessment of the antibiotic resistant bacteria that now roam the globe. The upshot: “Without urgent, coordinated action by many stakeholders, the world is headed for a post-antibiotic era, in which common infections and minor injuries which have been treatable for decades can once again kill,” says Dr Keiji Fukuda, WHO’s Assistant Director-General for Health Security.

As the report notes, “…these drugs have been extensively misused in both humans and food-producing animals in ways that favor the selection and spread of resistant bacteria.”

We don’t know for sure, but this sort of antibiotic misuse may be an underlying cause of the antibiotic resistance we're seeing in the Salmonella outbreak linked to Foster Farms -- an outbreak that is still afflicting chicken eaters here in the US. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly two-thirds of the Salmonella sampled from afflicted patients tested resistant to one or more antibiotics. CDC’s update on April 9 indicates that the outbreak is still going more than a year after its official start date in March 2013.

Foster Farms admits that it uses antibiotics, but has declined requests by NRDC and other public interest groups to disclose its antibiotic use or to commit to safe antibiotic stewardship practices.

[Above is] a recent infographic summarizing the situation (yes, NRDC officially gives you permission to share, link or re-post as you like. Click on it for a larger version). Get more facts about the Foster Farms outbreak here.

Let’s ask Foster Farms to take a close look at the WHO report that came out yesterday–and its own use of antibiotics. Please consider tweeting your request to @fosterfarms and @NRDCFood. We’re thinking #FosterHarms.

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