By Sabrina Tavernise/July 29, 2013/New York Times
Twice a month for a year, Lance Price, a microbiologist at George Washington University, sent his researchers out to buy every brand of chicken, turkey and pork on sale in each of the major grocery stores in Flagstaff, Arizona. As scientists pushed carts heaped with meat through the aisles, curious shoppers sometimes asked if they were on the Atkins diet.
In fact, Professor Price and his team are trying to answer worrisome questions about the spread of antibiotic-resistant germs to people from farm animals raised on industrial farms. Specifically, they are trying to figure out how many people in one American city are getting urinary tract infections from meat from the grocery store.
Researchers have been warning for years that antibiotics – miracle drugs that changed the course of human health in the 20th century – are losing their power. Some warn that if the trend isn’t halted, there could be a return to the time before antibiotics when people died from ordinary infections and children did not survive strep throat. Currently, drug resistant bacteria cause about 100,000 deaths a year, but mostly among patients with weakened immune systems, children and elderly.
Governments have begun to acknowledge the danger. The United States recently promised $40 million to a major drug company, GlaxoSmithKline, to help it develop medication to combat antibiotic resistance. But Dr. Price says that new drugs are only a partial solution.
For full report see NY Times/July 29, 2013