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CDC’s 'Get Smart' Campaign Aims to Outsmart Bacteria

November 19, 2010

LAS VEGAS - Outsmarting the enemy will take a team effort. That's the message for the "Get Smart About Antibiotics" campaign from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which aims to educate the public, doctors and agriculture that antibiotics need to be used more judiciously to reduce the spread of antibiotic-resistant infections.

The CDC's Dr. Lauri Hicks says there is a new sense of urgency, because resistant bacteria are spreading rapidly. They're connected to the overuse and misuse of antibiotics, and the rate of new antibiotic discoveries has slowed almost to a halt.

"What happens is now, common infections may be difficult to treat. When you really need an antibiotic, it may not work."

Today is dedicated by the CDC to preserving antibiotics for the future. A type of antibiotic-resistant pneumonia only found in one state in 2001 (Klebsiella pneumoniae carbapenemase), has now spread to 35 states, including Nevada.

Veterinarian Dr. Gail Hansen, senior officer with the Pew Campaign on Human Health and Industrial Farming,says getting farmers and ranchers on board with phasing out the routine use of antibiotics for food animal production is just as urgent. She adds that 70 percent of the antibiotics sold in the U.S. are used on industrial farms to help animals grow faster and stay healthy in crowded conditions.

"We've seen bacteria that have become resistant to antibiotics -- bacteria that are found predominantly in animals, that then get into our food supply and make people sick. That's happening."

Those who support using antibiotics in food animal production claim there's no proof that antibiotic-resistant bacteria come from animals. Hansen explains that drug resistance is a shared risk, just as effective antibiotics are a shared resource. She wants to see farmers and ranchers get assistance in changing production methods, so antibiotics are only used for medical reasons.

"We need to be looking forward to how do we come up with answers that more match what's being done on the farms today. What works on the farms? What doesn't work on the farms?"

Additional info at www.SaveAntibiotics.org.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NV