A new report released by the CDC this week lays out the grim stats on the growing problem of antibiotic resistance, citing 2 million illnesses and 23,000 deaths each year due to resistant bacteria.
The agency points to the overuse and misuse of antibiotics in both humans and animals as the number one reason behind the growing problem with resistance. “Every time antibiotics are used in any setting, bacteria evolve by developing resistance. This process can happen with alarming speed,” said Steve Solomon, M.D., director of CDC’s Office of Antimicrobial Resistance in an agency press release. “These drugs are a precious, limited resource—the more we use antibiotics today, the less likely we are to have effective antibiotics tomorrow.”
About 50% of antibiotics prescribed to humans is are “not needed or not optimally effective as prescribed,” says the report. But overuse in people isn’t the only problem, as antibiotics are also “commonly used in food animals to prevent, control, and treat disease and promote growth.” Says the report: “As in humans, it is important to use antibiotics in animals only when necessary to manage infections,” and provides this infographic detailing the myriad of ways the overuse of these drugs is causing us to be increasingly exposed to resistant bacteria.
“These drugs should only be used to treat infections.” Period. Humans don’t take antibiotics to prevent illness, and neither should animals — and they most certainly shouldn’t be squandered to make animals grow faster.
The CDC really couldn’t be any clearer.