Listening in the car to Terri Gross, NPR's amazing interviewer of interesting people, the other day with Science journalist Maryn McKenna on the show, I knew I had to write something here. Ms. McKenna led me to ponder once again in amazement at the sheer idiocy demonstrated by governments that fail to connect the dots when it comes to food and poisoning the earth(and much more). The basic point is: antibiotics in food production systems are a humongous threat to everyone. Think: chunks of your flesh pussing out and falling off, amputations, nightmarish inversions to what was before health and happiness.
You see, minute doses of antibiotics are given to livestock (other things like the hormone rBHT are used to dose-for-profit) as it has been found that doing so increases the rate and limits of growth. That means more money for the unscrupulous corporations that employ these tactics to beef up profits at the expense of your health and that of the planet. Antibiotics in a treatment size dosage are typically administered to an entire herd/flock even if one or just a few individuals are ill- and perhaps without any testing to actually see if the illness is bacterial. Doctors often do this with people - they recommend megadoses of antibiotics and while their hand hovers over the prescription form I ask for a test to see if the problem is bacterial and get that look. You know which look I mean: "Who is the doctor here?"
Anyway, the end result is logical. Bacteria find a way to adapt and overcome all of this antibacterial weaponry and become immune to it. That means if you or those you love come in contact with MRSA - and it is not the only superbug out there - and it takes hold, you are basically doomed since no antibiotics will be effective against it (MRSA already mutated beyond all the antibiotics it was exposed to). Although, some essential oils like tea tree oil are effective against it! Cool.
So what can be done? Idiocy in policy and law cannot be cured, alas. However, you can buy only meat that is organic and/or raised completely without antibiotics. Becoming a vegan is an attractive option as well. But not a sure thing - MRSA can be picked up in a lot of places (especially hospitals). Be careful handling meat. Wash your hands and have your kids wash hands - a lot. But not with antibacterial soap - these just add to the problem so don't buy antibacterial anything. In particular be careful of raw meats. The path of transmission is likely from them to your skin. Touching public doorknobs and other common objects (e.g. subway straps) is risky. Ms. McKenna advises a personal size sanitizing method (purell or cloths etc). Check out the interview.