The United Nations passed its first resolution to combat antibiotic resistance, killing 700,000 people annually, 23,000 in the U.S. each year. Antibiotic resistant infections are on track to outpace cancer as a leading cause of death globally by 2050.
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The World Health Organization will develop an action plan in the coming months for combating antibiotic resistance. Scientists say if nothing is done, the simplest surgeries and most common infections like hip replacements and urinary tract infections will carry the risk of death; and standard medications (including those given for psoriasis, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and organ transplants) can no longer be used because there will be no antibiotics to complement them.
A growing consumer demand for food produced without antibiotics has led to some positive changes. Nine of the 25 largest fast food chains in the U.S. are adopting strong policies that prohibit the routine use of antibiotics, or medically important antibiotics, in the meat and poultry they serve, up from five chains last year. 80 percent of all antibiotics are used on farm animals to treat diseases, prevent them from occurring, and speed up the growth and profit margins for cattle, chicken, and swine. In doctors’ offices and hospitals, the CDC estimates that up to a third of all antibiotic prescriptions are written for inappropriate uses. A 2015 Consumer Reports survey found that one in five antibiotic prescriptions are written at patients’ requests. Here are a few articles on the subject:
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