Thursday, March 3, 2011

Factory farms are crawling with bacteria — literally

Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria in Roaches and Flies and Pests—Oh My!

March 02, 2011 - Make that antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Grist's Tom Philpott reports that a paper recently published in the journal Microbiology found that antibiotic-resistant bacteria can be spread to the masses of roaches and flies attracted to factory farms through the operations' massive amounts of manure. What's more disgusting (yes, worse than massive manure) is that it's believed that these little crawlies could pass on antibiotic-resistant bacteria to people when they move on out of their factory farmyard homes, and possibly into yours. Sounds like a bad horror flick in the making.

Scientists from North Carolina State and Kansas State tested roaches and flies from around factory hog farms. Out of the pests that they collected, more than 90 percent carried forms of Enterococci that were resistant to at least one common antibiotic. According to Philpott, it was often more than one.

We know from the Food and Drug Administration that the majority of U.S. antibiotics actually go to livestock (about 80 percent), and not to people. Antibiotics are used all over the factory farm, not just on sick animals. Livestock are given antibiotics to promote growth. Animals are also regularly given drugs to ward off illness due to the overwhelmingly filthy and stressful conditions of a factory farm. And we know that these drugs are present sometimes when animals go to slaughter. The resulting resistant bacteria is present in the meat sold at the grocery store. {continued}

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