I have to wonder about this. I realize there are those who claim antibiotics persist in the meat of food animals, but the feeders are stringently required to withdraw antibiotics and allow a period during which they can be flushed from the animal’s system before slaughter.
As to resistant bacteria, I wonder too whether giving children antibiotics for, say, earaches, is all that great a problem, particularly since parents will almost surely give the kid the whole course. But if you look at nursing homes, for instance, antibiotic use is absolutely massive, due to the difficulty of controlling infections in weakened residents. The first MRSA I ever heard of, perhaps twenty years ago, was in connection with nursing homes. Might be we just have to live with that.
Also, a lot of recent immigrants, both legal and illegal, purchase powerful antibiotics over the counter in their home countries, self-diagnose and use those antibiotics willy-nilly. Those drugs are pervasive in Hispanic communities in this country. I dare to say virtually every recent immigrant has a sizeable stash of them brought from the home country. It is hard to imagine a more effective way to generate bacteria-resistant strains.
I will agree that sometimes physicians will prescribe antibiotics without doing the labs. This should not be allowed except in the most obvious and extreme cases.
Since I very much question whether giving antibiotics to children or adults who actually do need them, is the source of resistant strains, there being such much more likely sources, I am dismayed by what could easily turn into underprescription of antibiotics to those who really do need them.
Think for a moment about this. Generally speaking, antibiotic resistant strains of, say, strep, are no more dangerous in the absence of an effective antibiotic than untreated nonresistant strains of the same bacteria. Both are equally dangerous. So, we are to encourage doctors to let a strep go for fear of causing a resistant strain of the very same thing that will have the very same effect?
Antibiotics’ basic action is interference with bacterial mitosis…cell replication. For the most part, one’s own body then gets the opportunity to kill off the germs by avoidance of massive infection that overwhelms the body’s defenses.
As one recovers from infections, one develops at least some degree of resistance. That’s the nature of the immune system. I have to ask whether one is better off recovering quickly and effectively from what could become a massive infection, even if some of the “bugs” escape through resistance (succumbing to the immune response instead), or to go through the course of what could be a damaging disease?
I grew up in what was then a relatively primitive part of the U.S. Because of old ways and because people could hardly afford medical treatment anyway, it was the local “way” to either recover from disease or infection on one’s own or succumb. People didn’t seek out remedies that could prevent death or damage to hearing, sight or organs. As a child, I recovered from Scarlet Fever all on my own, and I would not wish that experience on any child. As a child, my own father sustained heart valve damage from that disease. Fortunately, I didn’t. One hopes we don’t return to that out of excessive zeal to prevent antibiotic resistance.
I realize we could end up with few antibiotic defenses. But I do think we ought to concentrate on the likely sources of resistance-development rather than on, say, denying the child an antibiotic that might save his hearing, his eyesight or heart valve damage.