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Mole's Progressive Democrat

The Progressive Democrat Newsletter grew out of the frustration of the 2004 election. Originally intended for New York City progressives, its readership is now national. For anyone who wants to be alerted by email whenever this newsletter is updated (usually weekly), please send your email address and let me know what state you live in (so I can keep track of my readership).

Location: Brooklyn, New York, United States

I am a research biologist in NYC. Married with two kids living in Brooklyn.

  • Help end world hunger
  • Thursday, June 05, 2008


    An ongoing effort of mine is to fight the misuse of antibiotics. Misuse of antibiotics has been an increasing health hazard for people, leading to many strains of antibiotic resistant bacteria that infect, and sometimes kill, people, particularly children, the elderly and the immunocompromised. Last time I wrote about this I was able to report a victory in the fight to keep antibiotics effective. Today I want to introduce the latest fight.

    First, for those who want more background, the Union of Concerned Scientists has an excellent rundown. An excerpt from their site:

    Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are on the rise. Patients once effectively treated for pneumonia, tuberculosis, or ear infections may now have to try three or more antibiotics before they find one that works. And as more bacterial strains develop resistance, more people will die because effective antibiotics are not identified quickly enough or because the bacteria causing the disease are resistant to all available antibiotics.

    Why have bacterial strains become resistant? The short answer is overuse of antibiotics. Physicians and hospitals have overprescribed the drugs, and patients have demanded them—even for illnesses not caused by bacteria. Veterinarians, too, overprescribe drugs to treat sick animals.

    It is livestock producers, however, who use the vast majority of antibiotics produced in the United States. An estimated 70 percent of antibiotics and related drugs produced in this country are used for nontherapeutic purposes such as accelerating animal growth and compensating for overcrowded and unsanitary conditions on large-scale confinement facilities known as "factory farms." This translates to about 25 million pounds of antibiotics and related drugs fed every year to livestock for nontherapeutic purposes—almost eight times the amount given to humans to treat disease.

    The most recent campaign to keep antibiotics effective is to contact Congress and urge your Congresscritter to support the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act. From the Keep Antibiotics Working website:

    An estimated 70 percent of all antibiotics used in the United States are regularly added to the feed of livestock and poultry that are not sick—a practice with serious consequences for our health. Bacteria that are constantly exposed to antibiotics develop antibiotic resistance. This means that when humans get sick from resistant bacteria, the antibiotics prescribed by doctors don’t work.

    Please write to your representatives today and ask them to support the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act. With members of Congress who have long supported curbs on antibiotic overuse now heading key congressional committees, the time has never been better to pass this critical legislation.

    Please make your letter personal by adding in your own thoughts and concerns. Every letter makes a difference, but customized letters have the greatest effect!

    And here are their talking points for your letter/phone call:

    Talking Points:

    * An instance when you, a family member, or friend suffered from an antibiotic resistant infection. Be as detailed as you can, including the type of infection (if you know this information and feel comfortable sharing it).
    * An instance when you, a family member, or friend experienced food poisoning, or another bacterial infection, that required antibiotic treatment. Describe the importance of having drugs that work to treat these conditions.
    * If you are a doctor or other medical professional, describe your experience treating patients with antibiotic-resistant infections, and the importance of these drugs to human health.

    Please contact your Rep through this site and give them your opinion. This is a very important issue and I hope you help us protect our health and the health of our children.


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