Victory in the Senate and House!

The House of Delegates passed the Keep Antibiotics Effective Act of 2017 by a vote of 139-1.

The Senate passed it by a vote of 35-12.

The bill restricts the regular use of antibiotics on animal agriculture, which is a huge step forward for protecting antibiotics.

Unfortunately, the data collection section was weakened to the point that it no longer requires any meaningful data collection.

The bills now need to clear the other chambers and then head to the Governor’s desk.

Almost done!!

Older antibiotics and newborns

Kern County is in the heart of agriculture in California. A  news report from CNN coming out of this county begins with this heartbreaking story:

Neonatologist Gurvir Khurana had only read about it in textbooks. Seeing it in real life has been a shock: baby after baby born severely anemic, lungs filled with fluid, bodies covered with rashes.

Some only lived minutes; others died within days or weeks.

The cause: congenital syphilis.

We have rising rates of STDs that we use older antibiotics like penicillins and tetracyclines to treat. We are using these older antibiotics to treat conditions that are increasingly causing concern – that are killing newborn babies.

These older antibiotics are used in animals, and they are still important for human medicine. We need these older antibiotics to remain effective, too.

It turns out, the sales of these older antibiotics in animals can rival or completely overshadow the sales in humans.

In 2011, penicillin sales in humans totaled 3,219,677 lbs and in animals totaled 1,940,427 pounds. Now, sales of pencillins in animals have increased to 2,065,001 lbs.

In 2011, tetracycline sales in humans totaled 250,957 pounds, and in animals totaled 12,439,744 lbs of tetracycline.

These numbers are bad news if we want to make sure these antibiotics keep working. We need to rein in the unnecessary uses, and make sure we’re only using antibiotics to treat sick people and sick animals.

Resistance in kids on the rise; Superbug threats found in food

The Washington Post reports on the rise of antibiotic resistant infections in children. The study found that 3 out of 5 children are admitted to hospitals already infected with antibiotic resistant bacteria – suggesting they picked it up from the community (rather than the hospital). Between 2007 and 2015, the proportion of children infected with a particularly scary antibiotic resistant bacteria rose 700%.

At the same time, the NRDC released this data on antibiotic resistant bacteria found in food animals. In 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a list of the top 18 antibiotic resistant bacteria threats. Turns out that 8 of those 18 have been detected in U.S. food animals.

Misusing antibiotics to raise poultry and livestock accelerates the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria that threaten human health. The superbugs are bred in these animals that are routinely fed antibiotics – and are released into the community through contaminated meat, water, air, soil. The way to stop this accelerated development of resistant bacteria is to stop feeding antibiotics to animals that are not sick.

The Keep Antibiotics Effective Act will slash that misuse.

 

Superbugs take to the skies

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Photo credit: Woman’s Day

Scary news coming from researchers looking at the nightmare bacteria that are resistant to our last resort drugs. This article talks about recent research that found people sick with a bacteria resistant to antibiotics that aren’t used in people.

We have known that people who live closer to hog farms and to land where hog waste is applied are at higher risk for skin and soft tissue infections. But it appears that sometimes, in the summer, the risks may be just as high for people who do not live near the farms.

The article suggests that it’s because summer flies will take the superbugs off the farms much farther than it would normally travel. Migratory birds might be another problem too.

So, just because you don’t live next to a farm doesn’t mean you are immune for these superbugs. It could be on the meat you buy at the grocery store – or it could be on the fly that landed on your apple pie.

Big Lobby Nights coming

On Monday, Feb. 20, from 5-8 PM, hundreds of Sierra Club members and Maryland Nurses Association members will be in Annapolis talking to their legislators.

We will be talking to these great folks about the Keep Antibiotics Effective Act so they can push their legislators to support it.

Come by and find us at the Miller Senate Office Building, 11 Bladen St in Annapolis, 1st floor East.

You can still RSVP for the Sierra Club Lobby night here.

If you can’t make it to an organized lobby night, but want to let your delegates and senator know you want them to support this bill, you can still reach out them by email, phone call, or schedule your own visit. Click here to find out who they are.

Two Fun Days

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L-R: Mae Wu (NRDC), Dr. Pat McLaine (Maryland Nurses Association), Sen. Pinsky, Sen. Nathan-Pulliam, Dale Jafari (Nurse Practitioners Association of Maryland), Ricarra Jones (1199 SEIU)

What a great two days of hearings on the Keep Antibiotics Effective Act!

The sponsors – Sen. Pinsky, Sen. Nathan-Pulliam, and Del. Robinson – led the charge.

Great testimony from an amazing list of witnesses. Thanks to everyone for spending all their time to talk to the committee about the importance of the bill.

The Senate hearing can be found here (starts at the 30 minute mark).

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L-R: Dr. Rob Sprinkle (University of Maryland School of Public Policy), Eric Gally (Maryland Academy of Family Physicians), Rebecca Rehr (Maryland Environmental Health Network), Joan Plisko (Pearlstone Center)

Update! The House hearing is online now here. The testimony starts at the 3:13 mark. But if you have some extra time, rewind it to the 2:50 mark to see a group of adorable 4th graders testifying on endangered species.

If you have photos from the hearing – send them along and we’ll post them.

Thanks again to all the witnesses!

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L-R: Alex Smith (Purple Sol Farm), Emily Scarr (Maryland PIRG), Josh Tulkin (Sierra Club), Troi Rivera (Clean Water Action), Katlyn Clark (Fair Farms Maryland), Liz Wiley (MedChi)

 

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L-R: Delegate Robinson, Dr. Pat McLaine, Dr. Amol Purandare, Michael Berger, Mae Wu
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L-R: Dr. Roseann Velez, Rebecca Rehr
house-panel-3
L-R: Emily Scarr, Alex Smith, Dr. Daniel Morgan, Brett Grosghal
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Katlyn Clark

 

  • Dr. Pat McLaine (Maryland Nurses Association)
  • Dale Jafari (Nurse Practitioners Association of Maryland)
  • Ricarro Jones (1199 SEIU)
  • Mae Wu (NRDC)
  • Rebecca Rehr (Maryland Environmental Health Network)
  • Joan Plisko (Pearlstone Center)
  • Dr. Rob Sprinkle (University of Maryland School of Public Policy)
  • Eric Gally (Maryland Academy of Family Physicians)
  • Alex Smith (Purple Sol Farm)
  • Katlyn Clark (Fair Farms Maryland)
  • Troi Rivera (Clean Water Action)
  • Josh Tulkin (Sierra Club Maryland)
  • Emily Scarr (Maryland PIRG)
  • Dr. Liz Wiley (MedChi)
  • Dr. Amol Purandare (Pediatric Infectious Disease Specialist)
  • Dr. Roseann Velez (Nurse Practitioner Association of Maryland)
  • Michael Berger (Elevation Burger)
  • Brett Grosghal (Even’ Star Organic Farm)
  • Dr. Daniel Morgan (University of Maryland School of Medicine)

Do it for Sir Alexander Fleming

Sir Alexander Fleming – the Nobel Prize winning discoverer of penicillin-  said, in 1945

…the thoughtless person playing with penicillin is morally responsible for the death of the man who finally succumbs to infection with the penicillin – resistant organism. I hope this evil can be averted.

I hope so too. The Keep Antibiotics Effective Act is one thing that we can do.

Are the FDA Rules enough? No.

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Credit: Scott Brundage

The Keep Antibiotics Effective Act closes an important loophole that the FDA left open in its recently finalized rules. These rules phased out uses of antibiotics to make animals grow fatter. But it still allowed antibiotics to be used to prevent disease.

Preventing disease sounds like a good thing. And it is. That’s why we wash our hands, take vitamins, vaccinate our kids.

We prevent disease to avoid using antibiotics. We don’t take antibiotics to prevent disease.

But this is what many factory farms in Maryland do. They will feed medically important antibiotics to animals for “disease prevention.” This term is short hand for feeding routine, low doses of antibiotics to animals that are not sick to compensate for the crowded, stressful conditions they live in or poor diets.

 

Why is this a problem?

Both growth promotion and disease prevention uses are routine and low dose. Many times, disease prevention doses are the same as, overlap with, or are very similar to growth promotion doses.

Even by banning growth promotion uses, FDA is still allowing dangerous low dose, routine use of antibiotics to continue under the guise of preventing disease.

This exact problem is what the Keep Antibiotics Effective Act addresses. It closes this loophole in the FDA rules and stops the routine, low dose use of antibiotics on animals that are not sick.