Sunday, March 04, 2007

Cattle Coming Home to Roost

Truly, truly frightening article in the WaPo about the FDA's approval of cefquinome, a new antibiotic for use in cows. Sounds easy enough. But consider the following:

1. The new antibiotic is a close relative of the antibiotic that is the last line of defense for humans in terms of non-resistance. That antibiotic, cefepime, is truly a cancer patient or sick child's only hope when all other antibiotics fail. If cefepime becomes less effective due to the overuse of its related sister cefquinome, humans will pay the price in alarming ways and numbers.

2. The rate of resistant bacteria to a particular antibiotic is proportional to the rate of use of that antibiotic. If you use it less, it has fewer bacteria that are resistant.

3. Cows need these antibiotics because of the way we factory farm in America. If we changed the ways in which cows are penned, fed and transported, the need for the use of antibiotics in cattle would fall dramatically. (Ask me why I'm not upset that Bambina doesn't really like meat. Ask me why she only consumes organic, no-antibiotic milk and dairy).

4. There are already several cattle antibiotics that work perfectly well. There is no established need for a new, hardcore one such as cefquinome.

It's a nightmare in the making, and the FDA is dithering as usual, getting caught up in semantics and generally fiddling while Rome burns.

Although it would be cheeseball funny, I'm too pissed to say it's an "udder disgrace."

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