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

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

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).

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!

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)


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

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.

Is it ever ok to use antibiotics in animals?

The Keep Antibiotics Effective Act of 2017 allows antibiotics to be used to treat sick animals and to control disease outbreaks. Why only these uses?


WHO Abx infographic

Experts agree that these are the appropriate ways to use antibiotics. The World Health Organization, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and many other scientific and medical experts.

Antibiotics should not be used routinely on animals that are not sick.

Health Professionals Applaud Introduction of Keep Antibiotics Effective Act

Bill would Curb Overuse of Antibiotics in Animal Agriculture

ANNAPOLIS – Maryland legislators have introduced new legislation to restrict the use of human antibiotics in animal agriculture. The bills (SB422 and HB602) were introduced by: Senator Paul Pinsky; Senator Shirley Nathan-Pulliam R.N.; Delegate Shane Robinson; and Delegate Clarence Lam, M.D. and are supported by dozens of groups including: public health professional associations and advocates, environmental and animal rights groups, labor unions, business owners, and farmers.

Hearings for the bills will be on Tuesday, February 14th at 1:00 in the Senate Education, Health and  Environmental Affairs Committee and Wednesday, February 15th at 1:00 in the House Environment and Transportation Committee.

Health professionals use antibiotics to treat everything from simple infections like strep throat, to more serious and life-threatening illnesses like pneumonia and MRSA. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that every year in the U.S.:

  • At least 2 million people become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics;
  • At least 23,000 people die from antibiotic-resistant bacteria;
  • We lose at least $55-70 billion a year due to excess hospital costs and lost worker productivity.

Any use of antibiotics causes antibiotic-resistant bacteria to develop. In the United States, up to 70 percent of human use antibiotics are sold for use on farms. These antibiotics are not used to treat sick animals, but are often put in the everyday feed of animals that are not sick for routine prophylaxis.

The Who’s Who of public health groups have cautioned against using antibiotics in this manner – including the World Health Organization, American Medical Association, American Public Health Association, the Infectious Disease Society of America, and American Academy of Family Physicians.

In 2016, the Natural Resources Defense Council commissioned a poll showing broad support for the bill statewide and across party lines and geography. Across Maryland, 68 percent favor state legislation that would restrict the regular use of medically important antibiotics in industrial agriculture and reserve them for use only when animals are sick.

Read more about the bill

“Antibiotic resistance threatens the routine use of many medical procedures we now take for granted,” said Dr. Pat McLaine, a registered nurse and member of the Maryland Nurses Association.  “If we don’t act quickly, we will lose the ability to treat infections, conduct surgery and treat illnesses like cancer.”

“By working directly with the animals, farmers, farm workers and their families will be the first to become infected with resistant bacteria produced by this dangerous low-dose strategy for disease prevention,” said Dr. Sara Via, a University of Maryland, College Park Professor in the Entomology Department and University of Maryland Extension. “From there, the resistant bacteria will move into rural communities. Livestock producers should consider the health of their families when using low doses of antibiotics on their entire flocks.”

“Combating antibiotic-resistant bacteria is a national security priority, and an area where healthcare professionals are working tirelessly to minimize inappropriate antibiotic use for patients that don’t need them” said Dr. Emily L. Heil, Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy. “However, with the vast majority of antibiotic consumption actually occurring in food producing animals, human stewardship efforts can only help so much.”

The Maryland Campaign to Keep Antibiotics Working: 1199 SEIU, Alliance of Nurses for a Healthy Environment, Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility, Fair Farms Maryland, Future Harvest Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture, Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake, Maryland Environmental Health Network, Maryland Nurses Association, Maryland PIRG, Maryland Public Health Association, Maryland State Conference NAACP, Maryland Votes For Animals, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Nurse Practitioner Association of Maryland, Real Food for Kids – Montgomery, Sierra Club Maryland, University of Maryland, School of Medicine – Center for Integrative Medicine, Woman’s Democratic Club of Montgomery County