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"Army" of Moms Tackle Antibiotic Overuse in Animal Food Industry

May 16, 2011

LANSING, Mich. - Each year, tens of thousands of Americans die and hundreds of thousands more fall seriously ill from antibiotic-resistant infections, and babies, children and seniors are at highest risk. That's why the Pew Campaign on Human Health and Industrial Farming has just launched
"Moms for Antibiotic Awareness", a grassroots movement of mothers aimed at protecting the effectiveness of antibiotics.

Everly Macario is the co-founder of the MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) Research Center at the University of Chicago. She says antibiotic resistance is not an abstract issue, but a life-and-death one.

"Seven years ago on a Friday, I was holding my gorgeous and healthy one-and-a-half-year-old son, Simon Sparrow, in my arms. Less than 24 hours later, I was wailing over Simon's dead body from a hospital bed. Simon was ravaged by a bug that no antibiotic could fight."

Simon's autopsy revealed he was infected with the MRSA bacteria, something that even Macario, who had a PHD in public health, had never heard of at the time. She has since dedicated her life's work to understanding MRSA and stopping its transmission, which she says is only the tip of the iceberg.

"We are in realistic danger of turning the clock back 100 years, to a time when infections could not be treated because antibiotics had not yet been discovered. Think about that when you think about the last time your child got sick, or about the next time your child will get sick."

Mothers involved in the campaign are calling on Congress to stop the overuse of antibiotics. Numerous government agencies and health organizations, including the FDA, CDC, World Health Organization, and the American Medical Association, have all acknowledged definitive links between antibiotic overuse in food production and antibiotic-resistant infections in humans.

A recent survey of Detroit area grocery stores found that 22 percent of the meat and poultry tested was positive for MRSA bacteria. However, the Wayne State University study also concluded that the bacteria is most likely transferred through human contact with the meat, not through the animals.

Moms for Antibiotic Awareness are at A survey of American Moms on Antibiotics is at See the Wayne State Survey story at

Amy Miller/Laura Thornquist, Public News Service - MI