US Antibiotic Awareness Week is November 12-18, 2018

Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria From the Farm to the Table (CDC)

The US Antibiotic Awareness Week Is November 12-18, 2018. Formerly called the “Get Smart about Antibiotics Week,” this is to raise awareness of the danger of antibiotic resistance and the importance of prescribing and using antibiotics correctly, as misuse contributes to the rise of antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria.

Antibiotics are Lifesaving

Antibiotics are lifesaving, but when a strain of bacteria becomes resistant to antibiotics then it can no longer be cured by antibiotics. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over two million people become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics and as a result about 23,000 people die every year from these infections that can no longer be cured by antibiotics.

Salmonella and Campylobacter

According to the CDC, salmonella and campylobacter are two of the bacteria most commonly spread through food and these cause 410,000 antibiotic resistant infections in the US every year.

From the Farm to the Table

One of the ways bacteria become resistant to antibiotics is the overuse of antibiotics in farm animals. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) claims that 80% of all antibiotics sold are used on farm animals with pigs and poultry receiving five to 10 times more antibiotics than cows and sheep. Farmers widely use antibiotics in healthy animals just to prevent possible outbreaks of diseases among animals. Animals that are penned in all the time like chickens in coops or piglets in pens do not get a chance to eat fresh greens that can give them protection against diseases. Chickens need to get out, eat fresh greens and scratch in the dirt for grubs and this protects them against disease. All animals also need some sunshine and fresh air. Farmers also have used antibiotics to fatten up animals faster for slaughter, but this practice has now been banned in the US, China and the European Union, but not in many other countries. Baby animals are removed from their mothers at birth or soon after and thus they do not get protective antibodies from their mother’s milk, which can help them build up a strong immune system. Lambs, calves and pigs can get diarrhea from sudden weaning and so antibiotics are given to them to prevent diarrhea. Chicks are hatched out artificially as well. Animals shipped to slaughter houses are given antibiotics to prevent them from getting shipping fever en route.

Slaughter and Food Processing

When animals are slaughtered, the bacterial strains they are carrying can contaminate the meat, and these bacteria can also spread into the environment and water and can also contaminate vegetables and fruit. Wild animals also contribute to spreading bacteria and viruses to vegetables, as wild birds, rodents and other animals may excrete urine and feces on vegetables they are feeding on. Fruit bats can carry bacteria and viruses that they may excrete in their feces and urine while eating fruit from trees.

How Bacteria and Resistant Strains of Bacteria Spread to People from Food

Bacteria is spread to people from food that has come into contact with raw meat, animal excrement or from human food handlers who do not wash their hands after using the toilet.

Wash all Fruits and Fresh Vegetables

Wash all fruits and vegetables carefully with water or soaps that are considered safe to use on produce. Vegetables that are used raw in salads like cabbage should have outer leaves removed and discarded and then it should be cut in half or in chunks and soaked in salted water for about 10 minutes and then rinsed and drained.

Handle Raw Meat, Fish and Eggs with Care

WEAR DISPOSABLE GLOVES WHEN HANDLING RAW MEAT, RAW FISH OR EGGS

Raw meat, raw fish and eggs and egg shells have been found to contain strains of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. Never handle any raw meat, fish or eggs without wearing disposable gloves and wash your hands well with soap after you discard the gloves. In general, frozen meat, fish and poultry will contain less bacteria than fresh meat, poultry and fish, as the freezing process kills off most bacteria.

Use Separate Cutting Boards for Raw Meat, Dairy Products and Fruits and Vegetables

Cutting boards are often found to be contaminated with bacteria especially salmonella. Pour boiling water frequently over cutting boards that are used to cut up raw meat and raw fish. High cooking temperatures will kill most bacteria and viruses in meat, especially if meat is well cooked. Be wary of eating raw fish even though sushi is now very popular. Not only bacteria, but dangerous parasites like tapeworms have been found in raw fish.

Never use the same cutting board for cutting raw meat or fish for also cutting up fruits and vegetables. Also do not use the same cutting board for cheeses and other dairy products for cutting up fruits and vegetables. Do not cut cheeses on a cutting board used also for cutting up raw meat or fish, as dairy products will very quickly pick up any bacteria left on the cutting board that was used for raw meat or fish.

Infants and Seniors Most at Risk

Infants and seniors are most at risk for picking up infections, as their immune systems are weak. If your loved one needs to go to a rehab or skilled nursing care home, be certain to find one that has a very good rating with no outbreaks of infectious diseases.

Ditmas Park Rehab and Care Center in Brooklyn, New York

The Ditmas Park Rehab and Care Center in Brooklyn, New York has a 5-star rating and is known for its expertise in stroke, heart and palliative care. They offer kosher food and have great recreational activities.

Brooklyn Hospitals near Ditmas Park Rehab and Care Center

New York Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital

NYU Langone Hospital—Brooklyn (formerly named NYU Lutheran Medical Center)

SUNY Downstate Medical Center – University Hospital of Brooklyn

NYC Health + Hospitals/Kings County

Maimonides Medical Center

Conclusion

Everyone should be very careful when handling raw meat, fish and eggs as they may contain strains of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics.

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