The discovery of penicillin’s bacterial fighting power in 1928 was a game changer. For the first time in history, infections could be fought with more effective medicinal weaponry than bloodletting, leeches, and crossed fingers. Like never before, we could really fight back. Unfortunately, that is all changing. Our power to treat infection is slipping from our hands. What’s worse, so many of us are completely oblivious to the situation and are perpetuating the problem.

The Below graphics explain antibiotic resistance and how we are all contributing to this problem. Hopefully, they will encourage you to take preventative measures in order to ensure that you are con contributing to this issue. Take antibiotics only when you need them, finish your full course of prescribed antibiotics, and consider whether alternatives to antibiotic-fed meat and dairy are right for you.

Image via World Health Organization

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 23,000 people die every year because of antibiotic-resistant infections. What’s worse, superbugs are on the rise, including strains of tuberculosis that are totally drug-resistant.  New Zealand just announced its first death from a completely drug-resistant bacterial infection. On top of this, the majority of meat you buy at your supermarket has bacteria living on it that is resistant to at least one antibiotic. In fact, eighty percent of all antibiotics in the United States are used on animals.  That’s four times more antibiotics that are fed to animals than are fed to humans — 29.9 million pounds of antibiotics used on healthy animals a year. Why do they use so much antibiotics? To boost productivity. Double-digit weight boosts can be seen when you feed antibiotics to livestock. Additionally,  these drugs suppress an immune response that breaks down muscle tissue.

Economically, it makes a great deal of sense to feed antibiotics to livestock non-therapeutically (that is to say, when they are not sick). Medically, however, it’s one of the worst practices we engage in. Say you wanted to create a superbug that was incurable, how would you do it? You might use low levels of antibiotics for an extended period of time on vast quantities of hosts, like animals. Over time, you would increase the antibiotic dosage and introduce increasingly powerful antibiotics. Years later, you would have an unstoppable bug. While I highly doubt any malicious intent, this is the exact procedure carried out on a massive scale within the livestock industry of the world.

Image via Center for Disease Control

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