NEWS SCAN: Antibiotics in animals, MRSA infection risk, more fungal meningitis cases

Jan 7, 2013

Statistic on animal antibiotics is misleading, says ex-USDA expert
The oft-cited statistic that 80% of antibiotics sold in the United States are used in animals is highly misleading, says Richard Raymond, MD, former under secretary for food safety at the US Department of Agriculture. In a Food Safety News (FSN) opinion piece today, Raymond writes that the 80% statistic is commonly used by those who want to eliminate antibiotic use in animals (because of the risk of promoting resistance to the drugs) and/or reduce the amount of animal products consumed in the United States. Citing information from a US Food and Drug Administration report, Raymond said 28% of antibiotics used in animals are ionophores, which have never been approved for use in humans. Because several other antibiotics used in animals also remain unapproved for human use, a total of 45% of antibiotics sold for animal use are not used in human medicine, Raymond writes. Further, tetracycline is the most commonly used class of antibiotics given to animals, accounting for 42% of sales. In human medicine, tetracycline drugs make up only about 1% by weight of antibiotics sold. Thus, Raymond argues, 87% of antibiotics used in animals are rarely or never used in humans. He argues against the "radical" step of banning antibiotic use in food animals except to treat actual infections, saying it would markedly drive up the cost of protein.
Jan 7 FSN opinion article

Pressure ulcers boost risk of MRSA infection in colonized hospital patients
Pressure ulcers and previous steroid treatment increase the risk of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections in hospital patients who are colonized with MRSA on admission, according to a study from Dallas researchers. The findings were published online today by the American Journal of Infection Control. Over a 19-month period, the authors tested patients for nasal MRSA colonization on admission to a large Dallas hospital and identified those who experienced MRSA infections within 3 months. Of 426 patients who harbored MRSA, 36 (8.5%) became infected. When the authors compared these 36 with 72 control patients who carried MRSA but did not become infected, the two independent risk factors that emerged were occurrence of pressure ulcers during hospitalization (adjusted odds ratio, 5.82; 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.2-15.3; P = .000) and previous steroid treatment (adjusted odds ratio, 13.2; 95% CI, 2.4-71.0; P = .003).
Jan 7 Am J Infect Control abstract

CDC reports 8 new fungal infections linked to steroids
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today confirmed eight new fungal infections linked to tainted steroids since its last update on Dec 28, including a fatal case. Total cases have now reached 664, including 40 deaths, the agency said. Of the cases, 373 involved meningitis, 257 were spinal or paraspinal infections without meningitis, 6 involved stroke without lumbar puncture, 27 were peripheral-joint infections, and 1 involved both a spinal or paraspinal infection and a peripheral-joint infection. Cases have been confirmed in 19 states, with the highest case counts in Michigan, 234; Tennessee, 140; Indiana, 70; and Virginia, 51. The cases have been linked to contaminated injectable methylprednisolone acetate from New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Mass.
Jan 7 CDC update

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