Monday, 6 June 2011

E. Coli in Sprouts and MRSA in milk

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The writer is delighted to see Maryn McKenna’s article appearing in Britain’s Guardian newspaper.

We need her voice in this desert of deceit and disinformation!

Her message is frightening for Britain, mentioning, as it does, English hospitals and incidents by name. She explains complex science in a way we can understand and outlines the issues that have to be tackled.

That two new forms of superbugs cause serious disasters, in one weekend, should be a wake up call to all those apologists for bad science and veterinary corruption.

Maryn McKenna correctly identifies a series of problems escalating around 2001. This  coincided with Britain's disastrous Foot and Mouth outbreak following Classical Swine Fever and Circovirus epidemics in pigs in the previous two years.

Three epidemics in three years was not coincidence, and anyone tracking this blog and the earlier work carefully preserved on his website here and the newsgroup uk.business.agriculture available  here and via Google Groups, will see the connections being made as the situation on the farms and in the hospitals deteriorated over the past decade.

Good science was ignored and decent people persecuted for trying to stop the rot.  People died whilst a greedy corrupt veterinary industry was looting the countryside and using its vast drug profits to pump out disinformation.

You should read the Guardian article in full here for much more that needs illuminating.

The reason why this deadly E coli makes doctors shudder

  • guardian.co.uk,

  • It is past time for health authorities to curb the antibiotic misuse that created the resistance of this aberrant E Coli strain...
    ...The massive outbreak of E coli O104 in Europe has infected more than 1,800 people and left more than 500 with the potentially deadly complication known as haemolytic-uremic syndrome. It has leapfrogged borders to at least 13 countries and killed about 20 of its victims. As health authorities try to trace the outbreak to a food that can be removed from the market, it has focused international attention on the complex paths that agricultural produce follows in an era of global trade.

    One aspect of the epidemic, though, has received little notice: this aberrant strain is resistant to multiple classes of antibiotics. Among all the urgent issues raised by this outbreak, that drug resistance should ring the loudest warning bells – and prompt serious consideration of curbing the vast overuse of antibiotics that has created it...

    ..But what is more important is that resistance factors forming O104's new protections have been burgeoning in Europe for at least a decade. Their movement into this strain demonstrates how freely resistance factors can leapfrog among organisms once they emerge. And that should underline how important it is to slow down the evolution of antibiotic resistance, by cutting back inappropriate use of antibiotics in everyday medicine and on farms...

    ...Because they primarily affected patients in intensive care units, these strains caused little alarm in the outside world. But after about 2001 these resistance factors moved into everyday life and started causing havoc. In a kind of genetic hand-shaking manoeuvre that bacteria perform all the time, the resistance genes moved into some strains of E coli – not the food-borne, toxin-making form, but rather the common variety that causes urinary tract infections and other normally minor illnesses.

    Suddenly hospitals in Birmingham and Shropshire began reporting significant outbreaks of ESBL E coli infections, and doctors who don't practise in hospitals began talking to each other about young women experiencing recurrent bladder infections that few drugs could affect. This wasn't only a phenomenon of the 2000s. In March 2010, the University Hospital of North Staffordshire experienced an outbreak of ESBL Klebsiella in which a patient died.

    Where are these resistance factors coming from? ...

    ...That excessive exposure happens any time anyone takes antibiotics for a health problem for which they are inappropriate, such as colds or ear infections. It happens even more when low-dose antibiotics are deployed by the tonne in large-scale agriculture, without any surveillance to report back what bugs are emerging. Researchers in Spain and the US say there are links between large-scale agriculture and the emergence of ESBL: they have found bacteria harbouring that resistance in the meat of supermarket chickens...

    ...But we already know where the antibiotic resistance in this outbreak has come from – and given bacteria's promiscuous propensity to trade genetic material, we know that O104 is keeping that resistance going by harbouring it and handing it off to yet another species. It's past time that governments and health authorities do what they can to slow down the evolution of drug resistance, by curbing the antibiotic misuse that brings it into the world.