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Missourians Urged to Join Fight Against Super Bugs

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Monday, September 23, 2013   

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - According to the newest and most conservative estimate by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every year more than 2 million people in Missouri and around the nation get sick from bacteria that antibiotics can't touch. Those superbugs kill 23,000 people every year.

Dr. Jason Newland is a pediatric infectious-disease specialist at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City. He says many families are getting the idea that they should not ask their doctors for antibiotics every time they get a cold. However, many people do not realize that overprescribing antibiotics for people is not the only problem, he said. He also blamed the overuse of antibiotics on farm animals. Food inspectors have found the evidence, he said.

"They've gone to supermarkets and just taken swabs or cultures - they swab the meat and then take it and put it in the lab and see what grows. What do they have grow? They have resistant bacteria grow," Newland said.

He urged doctors, families and farmers to work together to stop the overuse of antibiotics, in order to prevent further problems.

Newland also recommended that parents teach their children that keeping their hands clean is more than just running their hands under water for a couple of seconds or squirting on some hand sanitizer.

"It is really, you know, the scrubbing part of washing your hands. That's part of it. That's the friction. That's getting rid of this grime and dirt and these bacteria. And to really wash them, that's really important," he said.

According to government experts, 70 percent of the antibiotics used in the United States are given to animals, and the report says much of that is unnecessary and makes everyone unsafe. Newland advised everyone to work together to stop the spread of super bugs.

"Those of us in human health and those folks in the animal industry - until we start realizing that our inappropriate use of antibiotics causes these resistances or helps resistance develop faster, we're going to run into this problem," he said.

The report indicated that up to half the antibiotics given to people are either not needed or administered improperly. The Food and Drug Administration has told farmers to stop overusing antibiotics in food-producing animals.

Experts say hand washing, scrubbing for at least 20 seconds, is important. They say cooking meat thoroughly and washing produce also helps. Some consumers prefer to buy only antibiotic-free meats and poultry.

The CDC report is available at www.cdc.gov.




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