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Researchers say the overuse of antibiotics in humans and animals has led to a plague of drug-resistant infections that killed more than 65,000 people in the U.S. last year — more than prostate and breast cancer combined. And in a nation that used about 35 million pounds of antibiotics last year, 70 percent of the drugs went to pigs, chickens and cows. Worldwide, it`s 50 percent."This is a living breathing problem, it`s the big bad wolf and it`s knocking at our door," said Dr. Vance Fowler, an infectious disease specialist at Duke University. "It`s here. It`s arrived."The rise in the use of antibiotics is part of a growing problem of soaring drug resistance worldwide, a news agency found in a six-month look at the issue. As a result, killer diseases like malaria, tuberculosis and staph are resurging in new and more deadly forms.In response, the pressure against the use of antibiotics in agriculture is rising. The World Health Organization concluded this year that surging antibiotic resistance is one of the leading threats to human health, and the White House last month said the problem is "urgent."
"If we`re not careful with antibiotics and the programs to administer them, we`re going to be in a post antibiotic era," said Dr. Thomas Frieden, who was tapped to lead the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this year.Also this year, the three federal agencies tasked with protecting public health — the Food and Drug Administration, CDC and U.S. Department of Agriculture — declared drug-resistant diseases stemming from antibiotic use in animals a "serious emerging concern." And FDA deputy commissioner Dr. Joshua Sharfstein told Congress this summer that farmers need to stop feeding antibiotics to healthy farm animals.Farm groups and pharmaceutical companies argue that drugs keep animals healthy and meat costs low, and have defeated a series of proposed limits on their use.Bureau Report
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