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'Superbugs' created by U.S. cheap meat

May 15, 2012 at 8:19 PM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, May 15 (UPI) -- Mothers, healthcare providers, farmers and chefs gathered in Washington for a conference on the link between cheap meat and so-called superbugs in humans.

Everly Macario, whose son died of highly antibiotic resistant strain of bacteria methicilliin-resistant Staph aureus, joined the "Supermoms Against Superbugs" event, co-sponsored by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Pew Campaign on Human Health and Industrial Farming.

The Union of Concerned Scientists said the increase in the number of superbugs in the past three decades was a result of overuse of antibiotics in humans and farm animals. Livestock consume nearly 25 million pounds of antibiotics and humans consumer about 3 million pounds each year, ABC News reported.

An estimated 70 percent of U.S. antibiotics sold are given to healthy farm animals, not to treat disease but to allow animals to live closer together and decrease the amount of time it takes to raise an animal and send it to market, the Union of Concerned Scientists said.

Farm animals eat the antibiotics in their food, exposing the bacteria that live in their gut and skin to low levels of the drugs, and some bacteria survive and develop resistance to the antibiotics. The resistant superbugs -- MRSA, E. coli and salmonella -- can then spread to humans either by direct contact with farm animals or by eating contaminated meat from the animals, Macario said.

Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., the only microbiologist in Congress, introduced legislation to regulate antibiotic use in animal feed.

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