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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Mad Cow Disease in Brazil

Mad Cow Disease

Brazil Has hidden the fact that a cow tested positive for mad cow disease two years ago. The have continued to ship beef all over the world including the United States. They claim that because the cow died from another cause,. it was safe even though tests showed signs of mad cow disease. Mad Cow disease is deadly to humans.

This brings into question the wisdom of the USDA reducing their inspections of foreign producers by 80%. They are depending on foreign countries to inspect their self. This is the second problem we have had with beef this year. The first was with Canadian beef.which was infected with E Coli.

Sense there is no way for consumers to tell where their beef comes from it might be a good time to stop eating beef.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

USDA Cutting Back on Inspections

The USDA no longer inspects foreign meat processing plants every year. Check out this article for more details
the usda-quietly-eliminated-60-percent-of-foreign-meat-inspections

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Thirty People Died From Cantaloupe, Why?

Last year thirty people died from listeria laden cantaloupes from Jensen Farms. Jensen Farms declared bankruptcy They have set as side $4.500.000.00 dollars for the victims. A lot of farmers were hurt  because people were reluctant to by cantaloupe. 144 people got sick. One of the dead people was a fetus. Listeria is very bad for pregnant women.

One may wonder how this happens. Isn’t our food routinely inspected? The sad truth is that the FDA has only 1,100 inspectors . They inspect produce facilities every 4 to 7 years. If they see something wrong they do not come back to verify that it has been corrected. With the CDC estimating that 48 million people getting sick from food-borne pathogens every year, this is totally inadequate. Some farms are not in any hurry to make changes.

Publix Supermarkets realizing that this level of inspection was inadequate  insisted that the farms and packing houses they use be inspected more often. Most other supermarkets followed suit. they require that there suppliers use contracted inspectors. Several months before the listeria out break the FDA inspected Jensen Farms. they noted several problems with their sanitation In August of 2010 six days before the listeria outbreak, Jensen Farms was inspected again by a contractor.This inspection gave Jensen farms a 96 out of 100 which sounds good. But they also listed things that Jensen farms were doing wrong. The supermarket seem to pay more attention to the score of 96 and no attention to the problems listed on the bottom of the report.

After a long and expensive investigation of Jenson Farms following the outbreak, the FDA recommended that cantaloupe farms and packing houses follow the recommendations that were previously published by the FDA. They also suggested that cantaloupes should be precooled.

Precooling is a process to take the field heat out of the cantaloupe. When a pallet of cantaloupe is put in a regular cooler, it can take around 7 hours to cool the cantaloupe in the center of the pallet. During this time bacteria can grow. A precooler forces cold air or cold water through the cases of cantaloupe so that the cantaloupe cools in less than an hour.

Because it was a recommendation rather than a regulation, there was no rush of cantaloupe growers to buy precoolers. If they precool their cantaloupe and their competition does not, they have to charge more for there cantaloupe and their business will be negatively impacted.

What can be done to improve regulation and reduce this threat to public health? Following such an outbreak, Congress passed a bill to fund the Food Safety Act of 2010 with 38 million dollars. This seems like a lot of money. However, when you consider that the CDC estimates there are 48 million cases of disease from food borne pathogens every year, this is slightly over 83 cents per person. These are not all life-threatening illnesses, but when you consider days of work missed and doctor visits, it’s likely to cause billions of dollars in economic impact.

Most farms are responsible and put out good healthy products, but there are a few that try to take shortcuts. If all the FDA recommendations were followed, we would find a dramatic decrease in disease. We need more enforcement and regulation, rather than recommendations.

Consider: If an airplane falls from the sky, the FAA investigates. If they have a faulty part on the plane, they ground similar planes until they can be inspected. Then they make regulations to address the problems they find. In this way, they save lives. The FDA needs to do the same.

The country is afraid of regulation right now. But after the fiasco with the banks, it’s time we rethink when regulation is needed. The amount of money lost by cantaloupe producers because people were afraid to eat cantaloupe may even be comparable to the cost of regulation.

The there were three major things wrong at Jensen Farms
1 The machine that washed the cantaloupe could not be thoroughly be cleaned. It was made for potatoes. Sense potatoes are cooked they have lower standards.
2 There was standing water on the floor of the packing house.
3 A garbage truck was parked beside the packing house. This truck carried cantaloupe that was not good enough to sell and dumped them in a cow pasture. It was possible that listeria was in the dirt where the cows where the cows took a dump

Things we can do:
  1. Join the Make Our Food Safe Coalition -
  2. Tell your senator and congressman that you want the FDA funded through the Department of Health and Human Services rather than the USDA. (At present FDA receives 20% of the available funds, while the USDA receives 80 %)
  3. Tell your congressman and senators to fully fund the FDA.

  1. Wash all produce and use a vegetable brush.
  2. Do not set unwrapped produce on a counter or in the refrigerator without washing.
  3. Do not use the same cutting board for meat and produce.
  4. If you use reusable cloth grocery bags, wash between uses.
  5. Check out for more food safety tips.

Some of the information in this report came from Produce News Magazine

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

We Are Losing the War on Bacteria

We Are Losing the War on Bacteria

Seventy five years ago with the advent of penicillin we drastically reduced the number of deaths from pneumonia. Since then we have developed many more antibiotics. The problem is that bacteria mutate. With the mutations some of the bacteria become drug resistant.

Now we have what are called Super Bugs such as MRSA which are resistant to most of the antibiotics available today. There are several factors that have increased the speed with which superbugs are created. The less antibiotics used the longer it takes to produce super bugs, however some doctors have given their patients antibiotics for the common cold which is ineffective. Some patients don’t take their full regimen of antibiotics so the illness comes back and they have to take more.

Live stock are given antibiotics in their food. A three year old girl caught a new variety of MRSA from pigs. Pigs in Europe, England, Canada and the United States all have this variety of MRSA.

When someone goes to the hospital with Pneumonia they need to give them an antibiotic right away so the infection does not spread to the rest of the body. Doctors give the right antibiotic about 50% of the time.  Sense it takes up to seventy two hours to test for the type of bacteria causing the Pneumonia they have to guess which antibiotic this bacteria is resistant to. If the Doctor doesn't find the right antibiotic quickly the patient will die.Some doctors feel we will shortly be back to where we were 75 years ago with many more people dying from pneumonia.

Around Twenty years ago I saw a television show about how they treated bacterial infections in Russia. Instead of using antibiotics they used a virus called bacteriophage. It was harmless to humans but would kill the bacteria that was causing the sickness.The treatment came in ten doses that the patient would take for ten days. They charged $2.00 for the treatment. A
persons immune system will get rid of the bacteriophage within 7 days

The problem we have in this country is that Bacteriophage can't be patented. Here it costs up to eight hundred million to bring a drug to market. Once the testing on a bacteriophage was done anyone could manufacture the doses and sell them because there is no patent. This would reduce the price of the treatment too drastically, making it so a drug company wouldn't be able recoup the costs of testing and bringing the drug to market.

We need to change the laws so that drugs that are not profitable to the drug companies are brought to market.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Most Plentiful Organism on Earth

The Most Plentiful Organism on Earth

If you count all the living organisms on earth: the plants, the animals, the bacteria, even the cockroaches, and add them together. you will still have more Bacteriophages. There are
10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 bacteriophages on earth. Hopefully they didn’t count them by hand. Bacteriophage,called phage for short, are very small, 100 times smaller than a bacteria. We could not see them until the electron microscope was invented..These organisms  are viruses.

The name Bacteriophage means Bacteria eater. But they don’t actually eat bacteria but they do kill bacteria. Each species of phage only kills one species of bacteria. For example there are over 100 species of E coli and there are over 100 species of Phage that kill them. The species of Phage pictured below attacks is called  T4 and attacks E coli
The top part of the Phage is called the cuspid. It contains the DNA wound up tightly like a spring. Below the cuspid the thin spot is called the collar. The bumpy part is called the tail and the 6 appendages are called long tail fibers. the part on the bottom is the base plate.
Wherever there are bacteria, Phage are close by. They are  even in our bodies, on the mountain tops and in the deepest oceans.Every two days  they kill half the bacteria on earth. Because bacteria can  reproduce in as little as 30 minutes  Phage are never able to wipe out all bacteria.

When a phage finds a bacteria species that they are able to kill, the Phage attach their long tail fibers to the bacteria with a sticky glue. After they are attached, they move their base plate near the surface of the bacteria.The points that stick out from the bottom of the base plate attach to the bacteria with a stronger glue. Then the base plate gives off a chemical that softens the skin of the bacteria. Then the DNA shoots out of the caspit, down the tail and into the bacteria with a force 6 times as great as a champagne cork.

Once inside the bacteria the DNA takes over the bacteria. The DNA uses the bacteria’s energy to duplicate itself. Once it has duplicated itself 50 or more times ,the bacteria splits open killing the bacteria and sending more Phage to attack other bacteria.this can take as little as 15 minutes

The drawing is from wikipedia

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Kroger Recalls Fresh Spinach

Kroger Recalls Fresh Spinach

Spinach plant in November, Castelltallat

The spinach is thought to be infected with listeria. It was their Fresh Selections Tender Spinach sold in 10 oz. bags which had a use by date of 9/16/ 2012. This spinach was sold in 15 states. You can return the spinach to Krogers for a full refund. For information on which stores were effected go to on there service page.

This recall points out one major problem with recalls on produce. This recall was issued on the 9/18 whereas the use by date was 9/16. Because spinach is a perishable product the most of the spinach has already been eaten.

Listeria can cause serious illness especially in pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems. last year 30 people including one fetus died from listeria infected cantaloupe.

There is a Bacteriophage treatment approved by the FDA for use on food products. It will kill listeria. It is presently used on fresh salmon. It is time that the food industry starts using it on more food products.that are subject to listeria contamination.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Indiana Officials find Salmonella in Watermellon

Twenty Five people in 8 states after eating watermelon. State and federal are investigating to see if the watermelon is from Cumberland farms. Cumberland farms has instituted a recall of there watermelon. .This is a different strain of salmonella than the salmonella found on there cantaloupe.

So far cumberland cantaloupe has caused 270 illnesses and 4 deaths. Recently the CDC has found a second strain of salmonella in the cantaloupe which accounter for 30 of the illnesses

California Cantaloupes Recalled because of Salmonella

California Cantaloupes Recalled because of Salmonella

FDI Marketing Inc recalled close to half a million cantaloupe that were packed between August 27 and September 10, 2012. These cantaloupe were shipped to Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New York, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Mexico. The cantaloupe crates were marked “826 CALIFORNIA WESTSIDE.” These cantaloupe should be discarded or returned to the store for a refund. You may call FDI Marketing with any Questions at 1-559-449-0244

As a company committed to food safety DFI Marketing Inc. routinely samples products for food borne pathogens prior to harvest by third party laboratories. The company’s internal sampling of the cartons involved in this recall were negative for salmonella.

Retail customers who may have received this product should contact DFI Marketing Inc. Consumers who may have this product should discard it or return it to the store where they purchased it. Consumers with questions may contact the company at 1-559-449-0244 24 hours a day.

But a single cantaloupe in a test by USDA' Microbiological Data Program (MDP) did come back positive for Salmonella and that prompted recall.. So far there has been no sickness reported from these cantaloupes.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Three Dead Fourteen Hospitalized from Eating Frescolina Ricotta Salata Cheese

Forever Cheese, Inc has recalled 800 wheels Frescolina brand ricotta salata cheese .
with lot number T9425 and production code 441202 which was sold between June 20 and Aug 9. because of Listeria Contamination .This cheese is not the same as soft ricotta cheese sold in tubs and used to make lasagna.

Listeriosis symptoms include fever and muscle aches, diarrhea and other stomach illness.
It can have a death rate of up to 40% the CDC said two of the illnesses were in newborn babies, the CDC said. Listeria is most dangerous for pregnant woman. It can infect the fetus in the womb. It is also dangerous for children under 6, people over 65 and people with a weakened immune system.

Most people who consumed the cheese would not know where it came from because it was distributed in large wheels for retailers or restaurants to break down into smaller servings or packages. If you have ricotta in the refrigerator it is best to throw it out. When in doubt throw it out. For a refund contact the store where you purchased it for a refund, or call Forever Cheese at (888) 930-8693.

Raw Milk and Butter Recalled

California’s Organic Pastures Dairy has its third recall in less than a year. The first was for an E. coli outbreak and the last two because of Campylobacter bacteria found in their products. These are not their only recalls, they have had three other recalls in past years. If you live in California, you can get a list of stores where the recalled products are sold at Food Safety News.

The bad news is that after six recalls, people are still buying their products. Under present laws the FDA can not close down a dairy or even charge them a fine.
Campylobacter is no laughing matter. This bacterial infection can cause diarrhea, fever, abdominal pain, nausea, headache and muscle pain and can last up to 10 days. Long-term complications may include contracting Guillain Barre Syndrome ( when your immune system attacks your nerves) If Campylobacter gets in the bloodstream, it can cause death.

Organic Pastures Dairy has been lucky so far in that only a few people have gotten sick from their products and there have been no deaths. The FDA issued a recall of milk from Family Cow Dairy in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania on Feb. 25, 2012 because of Campylobacter contamination. They were not so lucky. Seventy-eight people were sickened in Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey and West Virginia. Nine of them were hospitalised.

Many people who drink raw milk believe that their dairies do a better job at cleanliness than the big factory farms. They also believe raw milk has health benefits and tastes better than pasteurized milk.

It’s true that there are differences in taste. (When I was a child I had raw milk still warm from the cow. I personally liked the pasteurized milk better.) Raw milk has a higher fat content. Because of the heating during pasteurization, the whey protein easier to digest than in raw milk. The amount of thiamine, cobalamin and Vitamin C is slightly reduced in pasteurized milk. The amounts are so small that they are not considered to affect human health.

According to a University of Michigan study some raw milk drinkers believe raw milk is beneficial for heart disease, neurological disease, aches, and cancer. Others feel that they do not have problems with lactose intolerance when they drink raw milk. There is no research to prove whether these beliefs are true or false. What is know is that it is not easy to keep all bacteria out of raw milk even when best processes are followed. Family Cow Dairy, for example, is licensed, inspected, and operating in compliance with Pennsylvania laws.

According to the CDC, one percent of dairy production in the U.S. comes from raw milk dairies. Yet, they were linked to 60 percent of dairy-related outbreaks of disease. In addition, 202 of the 239 hospitalizations (85 percent) resulted from raw milk outbreaks. Thirteen percent of patients from raw milk outbreaks were hospitalized, versus one percent of patients from pasteurized milk outbreaks.

Since raw milk drinkers may believe strongly in the benefits, getting them to drink pasteurized milk through education would probably not work. The only way to solve the problem is to make raw milk safer. I feel research into using Bacteriophage as an additive to raw milk should be researched.

Because people over the age of 65 or under the age of 6 are more likely to die from bacterial disease, this brings into question whether state laws should approve raw milk for all ages.
More information on campylobacter

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Vegan Foods Not Safe

Everyone believes that meats and meat byproducts are more dangerous than fruit, vegetables and nuts. They have heard that you shouldn’t put meat on the same cutting board as fruit and vegetables because the meat is likely to leave bacteria on the board. They have heard that meats have to be cooked to high temperatures to kill bacteria. In 2011, the CDC reported that fruits and nuts were linked to the most illnesses, followed by vegetables that grow on vines and stalks. People have died from things like infected bean sprouts, spinach, or cantaloupe.

The produce industry is responsible for one billion servings of fruits and vegetables every day in the United States. An extremely small portion of these are unsafe, but if you lost a loved one it doesn’t matter that the other millions of people are safe.

The big problem is attitude. The government inspects meat packing houses regularly. Fruit and vegetable packing houses are inspected only every 5 to 7 years. If they find a problem with sanitation, they do not re-inspect. The FDA has no authority to punish fruit and vegetable packing houses that do not follow the rules. Many of the FDA rules are only suggestions. Their only choice is to close the packing house down, and this usually happens only after someone gets sick or dies.

The problem also extends to stores that display some of their produce without refrigeration.
People think farmers’ markets are better because the products are fresher. This may be true, but they are also more likely to have product that is not refrigerated.

The problem also extends to the home. Many people think you don’t have to wash a banana or an orange because you won’t eat the peel. But when you peel the fruit, any bacteria that is on that peel will get on your hands. Lots of people us cloth bags instead of paper to save the trees but never think of washing them. If you set a piece of unwashed fruit in the refrigerator or on the counter, you could be infecting these surfaces.

One bacteria can multiply into one million in seven hours. This is why sanitation is so important. Write your congressman let him know that you want produce packing houses regularly inspected by the FDA and the FDA needs the power to punish those who don’t follow their rules.

Friday, August 24, 2012

E. coli 104H4 Mutated into a More Dangerous Form

Last summer, 4,236 people were sick and 50 people were killed by E. coli 104H4. This was the largest outbreak on record caused by a foodborne pathogen. The outbreak occurred in Germany and France. The only people who got sick in the United States had just come from Germany or France.

This outbreak was caused by infected bean sprouts. Rather, the seeds that were used to make the bean sprouts were infected. Because sprouts are grown in water, it is easy for bacteria to spread from one sprout to another. Because of the ease with which bacteria spreads in sprouts, it is advisable for children under 6 or people over the age of 65 not to eat raw bean sprouts.

E. coli 104H4 attaches to the colon and causes bloody diarrhea and can cause Kidney failure. This strain of E.coli is particularly dangerous because it is resistant to 14 different antibiotics.and can only be treated with the class of antibiotics called carbapenems.

The other thing that makes E. coli 104H4 hard to treat is that it clumps together in large groups so it is difficult for antibiotics or the immune system to kill the bacteria in the middle. The carbapenems attack the E. coli when it divides into two cells, making the new E. coli cell shed its skin. Without any skin it will not survive very long.

So far there have been no outbreaks of E. coli 104H4 in the United States. But since food is shipped around the world, it would be no surprise to see it in the U.S. Some bacteria have already shown resistance to carbapenems. It is possible that we will have totally drug resistant E. coli in the near future.

To solve the problem of drug resistance, we need to make Phage Therapy available. So far it is only available in Poland, Russia, and the Republic of Georgia. Phage Therapy should be more effective against E Coli 104H4 because of the way phage attack bacteria.The phage virus sends its DNA into the E. coli, using the energy in the E. coli to replicate itself. After it makes 50 or more Phages, they split open the E. coli and go out to find other E.coli to infect. Because E. coli 104H4 is clumped together, the Phage would easily find and destroy them, where antibiotics have difficulty even penetrating the cluster.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Two Dead - A Bad Year For Cantaloupe!!!

Two Dead - A Bad Year For Cantaloupe!!!

Several farms in Southeastern Indiana have stopped shipping cantaloupe while the FDA is investigating to find out which farm has the melons that are infected with salmonella. As a precautionary measure, Walmart has taken all cantaloupe from southeastern Indiana off their shelves.

So far, two people are dead, 31 have been hospitalized, and 141 people have been reported as being infected. Alabama, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin have reported cases. More cases are expected.

The California Cantaloupe Growers put out a statement that California cantaloupe have never been responsible for any outbreak of foodborne pathogens. In fact, most growers are doing a good job of keeping us safe. But a few growers are making people sick, which hurts the whole industry because people shy away from cantaloupe.

There are 167,033 Registered Domestic Facilities that the FDA has to inspect. Of these they have personally inspected 11,007 facilities this year. The FDA is critically underfunded. The FDA's funding is through the USDA; the USDA keeps 80 % of the money and gives 20 % to the FDA.

The FDA needs to be funded by the Department of Health rather than by an agency that is in the business of promoting agriculture. This way we could improve the safety of the products we eat.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Urinary Tract Infections Caused by Chickens


A recent Canadian study found that the drug-resistant E. coli found on the chicken we eat is genetically the same as the E. coli that causes urinary tract infections (UTIs) in humans. They checked the E. coli found on beef and pork and found they were less likely to be genetically the same as this human UTI bacteria. The Canadian researchers suggest that chicken is the most probable source of the E. coli that causes UTIs.

E. coli is the leading cause UTIs in humans, causing more than 85% of these infections. Each year there are 6 – 8 million UTIs diagnosed in the United States, and 130 – 175 million worldwide. Costs related to uncomplicated UTIs in the United States are $1 – $2 billion per year. UTIs can also lead to more severe illnesses, such as pyelonephritis, bacteremia, and sepsis. During the past decade, the emergence of drug-resistant E. coli has dramatically increased. Because of this it has become harder to cure UTIs and the risks for treatment failure are higher, thus increasing hospital costs.

Almost 100% of the chickens we eat have drug-resistant bacteria on them because they are given antibiotics mixed with their feed. Because antibiotics make the animals grow faster, it is unlikely factory farms will give up this practice any time soon.

So what can be done? There are a variety of ways to approach the problem. More effectively fighting infection would be an important step. In Poland, they have found they could dramatically improve outcomes and reduce costs by using Phage Therapy instead of antibiotics. Not only is Phage Therapy cheaper, the reduced time that the patient has to stay in the hospital saves money.

Careful safety precautions help. If you eat chicken, make sure to cook it thoroughly. Wash your hands and disinfect all surfaces in the area where the chicken was prepared.

However, prevention is the key to solving this problem. Eliminating or strongly curtailing the use of antibiotics in meat production could do much toward reducing the incidence of drug-resistant bacteria, but as previously mentioned, this is unlikely to be a voluntary effort on the part of meat producers. Avoiding chicken certainly reduces your personal risk. Look into the benefits of a plant-based diet.

More informatiom on the Canadian study.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Burch Farms Recall Expanded to Honeydews

Burch Farms Recall Expanded to Honeydews

Burch Farms has increased their recall to include to include honeydew. These honeydew were not labeled. If you purchased a honeydew without a label, you can contact the store where it was purchased to see if it was part of the recall.

Because of unsanitary conditions in there packing shed, Burch Farms is expanding the recall to include everything that was packed there.

In other news, Jensen Farms - whose cantaloupe caused 30 deaths last year - has gone bankrupt and the government is investigating as to whether they should file criminal charges.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Onions and Cantaloupe Recalled Due to Listeria Contamination

Onions and Cantaloupe Recalled Due to Listeria Contamination

The FDA found Listeria in onions produced by Gills Onions, LLC in a retail store. Later they found Listeria in one of their packing plants. Gills Onions, LLC is the largest producer of onions that are chopped, slivered, or peeled. They also produce chopped celery. They initiated a voluntary recall of all products made at this plant. Most of their products are used as ingredients in other products. Their products are distributed throughout the United States and Canada. You can check for more information on the recall.

They have not found any listeria in the other products that have been recalled. So far, no cases are reported of illness from the onions. Gills Onions, LLC has hired a bacteriologist to help them improve the safety of their products.

On Saturday, North Carolina's Burch Farms and Hannaford Supermarkets recalled 188,902
cantaloupes due to possible contamination with Listeria. These were shipped out between July 15 to July 27. The cantaloupes have a red label that reads 'Burch Farms' and 'Cantaloupe PLU 4319.' Some of the cantaloupe are branded as "Cottle Strawberry, Inc They were shipped to to FL, GA, IL, MD, ME, NC, NJ, NY, PA, SC and VA.

If you purchased on of these, please throw it out. So far no one has reported any illness from these cantaloupe.

Hopefully no one will get sick from these onions or cantaloupe, but. Listeria is very dangerous. Twenty percent of those who get a Listeria infection will die. Just last August, 33 died from Listeria-infected cantaloupe from Jenson Farms in Colorado.

This time, the FDA seems to have done a good job of protecting the American public. But they are working with their hands tied behind their back. Congress only gives the FDA enough money to inspect three percent of the produce that we eat.

Better Way to Treat Whooping Cough

The Center for Disease Control announced that in Washington State there was a 1300% increase in cases of whooping cough over 2011. As of July 14, they had 3014 reported cases, the most since 1942. They think the real number is much higher. The heartbreaking part of this is that babies and young children the ones most likely to die.

There is an increase in cases of whooping cough all over the United States, but not as dramatic as in Washington. Some think the bacteria causing whooping cough may have become more virulent. The Center for Disease Control feels they may have to have people vaccinated more often.

One of the problems is that adults do not get vaccinated. Even though adults don’t usually die from whooping cough, they can infect children. It is especially important that pregnant women should get vaccinated. Right now it is suggested that adults get vaccinated every 10 years, but considering the increase in cases that will likely be reduced in the near future.

The antibiotics used to treat children with whooping cough have many side effects. Here is an incomplete list to give you an idea of the problems:

  • Azithromycin - diarrhea, nausea, fever, headache, blistering peeling red skin.

  • Erythromycin - diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain,vomiting, arrhythmia, reversible deafness, anaphylaxis, psychotic reactions.
  • Clarithromycin - diarrhea, nausea, severe allergic reactions, bloody stools,depression, dizziness, fast or irregular heartbeat, hallucinations, loss of taste or smell, red swollen blistered or peeling skin, tremor, and trouble sleeping.
  • TMP-SMZ - allergic reactions, severe liver damage, renal failure, aseptic meningitis, hallucinations, apathy and shortness of breath.

One of the main reasons I am in favor of using Phage Therapy is because there are no side effects and there is less likelihood of secondary infections. Antibiotics kill good as well as bad bacteria. Many people are aware that good bacteria help us digest food, but the good bacteria also help our immune system fight off disease. Since Phage Therapy is very selective, it only kills the bacteria that is causing your illness.


Thursday, July 26, 2012

One Hundred Thousand Dead

One Hundred Thousand Dead
In Science Daily July 13,2011 they announced that one hundred thousand Americans will die from bacterial infections this year - that’s equivalent to the entire population of Burbank, CA. Unfortunately, the number of these unnecessary deaths will only continue to increase in the future as more bacteria becomes antibiotic-resistant. What can be done to stop this?

At the moment, food animals consume more antibiotics than humans. A recent report noted that 80% of the antibiotics used each year in the U.S. are used in livestock feed. We could slow the development of antibiotic-resistance by taking preventive antibiotics out of livestock feed and only giving the animals that are sick antibiotics. We can also stop giving antibiotics to patients with viral illnesses. Antibiotics are only effective against bacterial diseases, but often prescribed for viruses.

Overuse of antibiotics is not the only way that resistance spreads, however. Bacteria has two sets of DNA in each cell. If a resistant bacteria touches another bacteria, it can pass one set of its DNA to the adjacent bacteria thus spreading resistance. Also the resistance can spread to the offspring of a resistant bacteria. Another way of spreading bacterial resistance is through a virus called a bacteriophage. There are two types of bacteriophage (phage, for short): one of these, which is called lytic phage, kills bacteria, whereas the other, which is called temperate phage, will live in the bacteria and let the bacteria survive. This phage will reproduce itself in the offspring. When the bacteria becomes weak, this phage will leave the bacteria and infect other bacteria. Many times the temperate phage’s DNA will mix with the DNA of the bacteria and can spread resistance. With all the ways to spread resistance and all the overuse of antibiotics, resistance is increasing faster than ever.

So how can we stop bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics? One way might be with new and different antibiotic drugs. Right now, there are no new antibiotics being developed. Since the sixties there have been fewer and fewer of these drugs in development. It costs an estimated eight hundred million to bring an antibiotic to market; since some of the drugs will not get through the approval process, that eight hundred million may go for nothing. It is quite a risk to take for a medicine that will only be taken for two or three weeks. Congress is trying to pass a law to extend the length of a patent on antibiotics, giving the drug companies more incentive to develop them.

Of course, antibiotics have disadvantages other than resistance. Many times they are not effective in treating parts of the body where there is poor blood circulation. They also kill the beneficial bacteria in a body - such as the bacteria that helps us digest our food - along with the the disease-causing bacteria. This may lead to fungal infection in the lungs and other organs, or can cause secondary bacterial infections in people with weakened immune systems.

What if there were a solution other than antibiotics to fight stop the tide of infection-related deaths? In fact, there is a different way to fight bacterial infections - using lytic phage to kill bacteria. Phage therapy has been used for over 90 years with only minor side effects. Low blood circulation is not a problem. Killing beneficial bacteria is not a problem. Fungal infections are not a problem. Secondary bacterial infections are not a problem.

So why is this safe and effective therapy not used in the United States? Mostly because of the way our drugs are approved in this country, and because of a disrespect for scientific research done in the former USSR. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has a “one size fits all” mentality. The phages that work well in Florida may not work as well in New York because different places have different bacteria. Even people in the same geographical area can have different bacteria. So because phage therapy cannot be tested using the same “formulation” for every infection, the FDA won’t accept the research showing the safety and efficacy of this solution.

What I want to achieve with this blog is to spread awareness of the problem. I want to get other people’s ideas on how to solve this issue. I want to get other people involved in spreading the word - to find people willing to talk to their congressman. I want to see the day when we are not losing 100,000 people a year needlessly! Leave a message on the blog and I will get back to you,

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Tuberculosis Taking Over From AIDS as #1

Tuberculosis taking over from AIDS as #1

In April 2012, an outbreak of tuberculosis began in Jacksonville, Florida. There were 99 cases with 13 deaths -- the largest outbreak in the United States in the last 20 years. Because only a small portion of the people that were exposed have been tested, more cases are expected. This outbreak took place in the homeless community, which is very mobile, so we can expect more case throughout Florida and in other states.

In the United States, 5 to 10% of the population is infected with the bacteria that cause tuberculosis. Most of the infected individuals do not show any symptoms. Their immune system is protecting them. As with most bacterial diseases, children under 6, seniors over 65, and people with a compromised immune system are more vulnerable. It is important to treat people without symptoms because about 5 to 10% of them will come down with tuberculosis within 10 years. There is a tuberculosis vaccine, but it is not totally effective.

Many tuberculosis bacteria strains are becoming resistant to multiple antibiotics. This makes it harder to treat the disease. The treatment for tuberculosis can require up to two years of antibiotic treatment. If someone stops taking the drugs during this period, the bacteria can develop resistance to the drugs that are being taken. To prevent this, health departments send workers to the patients’ houses each day to make sure they take their meds. People who are hard to manage are usually hospitalized. Even with antibiotics, 10% of those who contract tuberculosis will die.

In people who do not get antibiotic treatment, there is a 50% death rate. In Italy, Iran and India they have a strain of tuberculosis that is totally drug-resistant. They have no way to treat it. Tuberculosis is the second most deadly disease on Earth, second only to AIDS. With the advent of totally drug-resistant tuberculosis, it is likely to become #1. It is only a matter of time before it spreads over the whole world.

There is an answer to this problem. It was used in the United States in the 1930’s before the advent of penicillin. It is called Phage Therapy. Phage is short for bacteriophage, a virus that kills bacteria. The great thing about phage is that, like bacteria, it mutates. So when bacteria develops resistance, phage can mutate to a form that will kill the bacteria. In most cases, a new phage can be found within a few weeks.

Worldwide, deaths from malaria have dropped in half. We can now cure 90% of stage one cancer. The lifespan of humans is longer than ever before. It’s a shame to go backwards because of drug-resistant bacteria. There are already several bacteria that are resistant to all but one antibiotic. The World Health Organization stated that in the near future our current antibiotics won’t work. The time to bring back phage therapy is now.