Thursday, March 9, 2017

Watch What You Eat

The doors within doctor’s offices revolve weekly, providing new patients by the minute. Each patient possesses unique symptoms that provide clues on the nasty infection or virus thriving inside. However, doctors around the world continue to notice that one type of pain and discomfort continues to spike among female patients in recent years: the urinary tract infection. In fact, “in the United States, one out of every nine women has a UTI every year,” according to the article “How Your Chicken Dinner is Creating a Drug-Resistant Superbug” by Maryn McKenna. The price of dealing with highly painful UTIs hovers just above $1 billion per year, and it continues to skyrocket with the increasing prevalence in modern day society. To make matters worse, engaging in a quick and successful battle against these nasty bacterial strains continues to grow in difficulty. This difficulty increases due to certain strains becoming resistant to multiple antibiotics, causing thousands of women to suffer with prolonged illness as their doctors scramble to find the right medicine to eradicate the infection.

The question on the minds of thousands of scientists’ minds across the world revolves around what the possible cause could be that continues to trigger the enormous spike in UTIs. The answer remains highly controversial. On the one hand, some researches argue that a strong link persists between the meat we consume and the bacteria we then acquire. These researchers highlight the “close genetic matches between resistant E.coli from human patients and resistant strains found on chicken or turkey sold in supermarkets,” in order to make the argument that resistance could be spreading with every bite from our chicken dinners. While on the other hand, other researchers don’t agree as antibiotic resistance remains extremely common in our society therefore, “it isn’t surprising that genes carried by human E.coli are going to be similar to resistance genes in chicken E.coli.” However, after taking both arguments into account, I believe that a strong link exists between the antibiotic treated meat we consume and the resistant bacterial strains which grow in frequency within our bodies. The fact remains that “80 percent of the antibiotics sold in the United States each year are given to livestock as ‘growth promoters’,” therefore large sums of antibiotics flow through the bloodstreams of these animals, allowing millions of bacterial cells in their bodies to adapt and eventually become resistant. Some of these resistant bacterial cells still thrive in the meat of the animals when we put them in our mouths while enjoying a dinner with our families. After dinner, these cells travel through our bodies, passing on the resistant gene to other cells within our bodies. Then, when our bodies become infected, they become far harder to cure. Although many farmers continue to deny the link between animals and humans in transferring resistant cells in an attempt to keep their meat output as high as possible, I believe the link remains quite obvious when observing the patterns in doctor’s offices. For instance, the fact remains that there has been a plethora of patients with UTIs who haven’t been recently exposed to medical centers in which antibiotics remain highly overused. Without the exposure to antibiotic overuse, why do the UTIs display high resistance to antibiotic treatment? The common factor observed by many doctors remains recent exposure to meat grown with the aid of antibiotics. Therefore, to fight the pain growing among millions, the use of antibiotics in agriculture needs to become severely regulated.

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