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New Superbug Strain Found In Cows and People

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the biological-warfare-in-the-bovine-revolution dept.

Medicine 144

sciencehabit writes "A novel form of deadly drug-resistant bacteria that hides from a standard test has turned up in Europe. Researchers found the so-called MRSA strain in both dairy cows and humans in the United Kingdom, suggesting that it might be passed from dairies to the general population. But before you toss your milk, don't panic: The superbug isn't a concern in pasteurized dairy products."

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We all know what happens when stories like this (3, Insightful)

gcnaddict (841664) | more than 3 years ago | (#36338836)

break.

IT SPREADS FROM MILK TO PEOPLE? DUMP ALL MILK.

It doesn't even matter if it's pasteurized. How many people in the general population even know what pasteurization means? Some food purists only know that the process makes food taste a little different, even if it's healthier as a result.

Re:We all know what happens when stories like this (5, Funny)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 3 years ago | (#36338876)

How many people in the general population even know what pasteurization means?

It clearly refers to free-range milk. You know, letting it wander around in the pasture all day. Pasteurization.

Thanks, I'll be here all week.

Re:We all know what happens when stories like this (1)

The Wooden Badger (540258) | more than 3 years ago | (#36338986)

It's even funnier because it is so ironic.

Re:We all know what happens when stories like this (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339708)

Ahhh, it's that whole bio-fad, then?

Well, thanks for the info, I'll go for pasteurized then. Thank god you informed me so I know what milk I can still drink! Can you imagine, just lately I've seen a label on milk about it being "homogenized", and I don't want homo genes in my food!

Re:We all know what happens when stories like this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36340398)

How many people in the general population even know what pasteurization means?

It clearly refers to free-range milk. You know, letting it wander around in the pasture all day. Pasteurization.

Thanks, I'll be here all week.

You my friend are a funny moFro. ;D
Thanks for the laugh!

Re:We all know what happens when stories like this (0)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339244)

Better than the folks around here* who specifically seek out unpasteurized "raw milk" like it's some sort of magic formula and feed it to infants. (This is why there are liability concerns and why various state legislatures feel a need to prohibit the sale of raw milk.)

Don't you love pseudo-religious "environmentalism"?**

(*people near San Francisco, and especially Marin County to the north.)(** a brand of new-age spirituality also associated with the likes of homeopathy. as opposed to, you know, real environmentalism, which is a movement/philosophy/idea/thingy with some actual merit)

Re:We all know what happens when stories like this (3, Interesting)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 3 years ago | (#36340432)

You don't even see the problem in your post, because it is so ingrained into our society.

Your first sentence is fine. Make fun of those people all you want. It is your second (perens) is where the problem is. WHY is there liability for RAW milk, in such a way that a STATE feels like it needs to regulate it by laws? You realize that this line of thinking is why we call it the "Nanny State", right?

Re:We all know what happens when stories like this (1)

Zorpheus (857617) | more than 3 years ago | (#36341680)

Are you suggesting that every harmful substance can be sold in the supermarket? I prefer that I can go shopping and that I can just try whatever looks good, without needing to be worried that one of these things is a big health risk.

Re:We all know what happens when stories like this (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36339388)

It's not "healthier as a result".
It's partially destroyed as a result.
That's bad for the diseases in it.
But it's also bad for the proteins that your body will have to use.

The folding of the proteins partially falls apart. Which is very bad, since your body often won't notice. And since not all protein is digested, but much is just used directly, that means defective "machines" working in your body.

I have direct first-hand proof of this, because a friend of mine has proven, that his summer-asthma was 100% caused by heated milk proteins.
He barely could breathe in the summer, because of it. Had to use an inhalator all the time.
He stopped eating heated animal proteins in early spring. By the summer, he rarely had to use the thing at all.
In the following winter, he started to eat e.g. steak, and other meat again. But nothing made from milk.
And the next summer, he had to use his inhalator only one single time. Because he had eaten some cheese again. It was an exception.
He's fine ever since. It never came back.

Yes, pasteurization still is not a bad idea, if your milk is full of germs.
But why the hell is it so full of germs in the first place??
(In case you didn’t know: Milk from a healthy normal cow in a species-appropriate environment doesn't have any unhealthy germs. That just happens if you feed them with animal meal, and let them stand in their own shit [which they hate], so that their udders become dirty, and their immune system falls apart. That's also the reason they give them so much antibiotics. It's disgusting. Pure unscrupulousness and greed.)

Re:We all know what happens when stories like this (1)

Uhyve (2143088) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339492)

(In case you didn’t know: Milk from a healthy normal cow in a species-appropriate environment doesn't have any unhealthy germs. That just happens if you feed them with animal meal, and let them stand in their own shit [which they hate], so that their udders become dirty, and their immune system falls apart. That's also the reason they give them so much antibiotics. It's disgusting. Pure unscrupulousness and greed.)

So you're saying that cows are sterile unless you make them stand in shit?

Re:We all know what happens when stories like this (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36339692)

>And since not all protein is digested
Unless you're two days old that's, bullshit. All protein is broken down into amino acid chains before absorption. If they weren't we wouldn't have need of a gut.

>I have direct first-hand proof of this, because a friend of mine has proven, that his summer-asthma was 100% caused by heated milk proteins.
Oh, you performed a double-blind experiment enough times to be statistically significant? No? Then it's 100% anecdotal bullshit.

>But why the hell is it so full of germs in the first place??
All larger organisms are full of germs. Every one of us.

>Milk from a healthy normal cow in a species-appropriate environment doesn't have any unhealthy germs.
More bullshit.

>let them stand in their own shit [which they hate]
You've asked one, personally? Cows are stupid animals. They wouldn't know the difference between standing in their own shit or standing on the moon.

>their udders become dirty
Their udders are dirty because they sleep on the fucking ground.

Re:We all know what happens when stories like this (4, Informative)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 3 years ago | (#36340084)

Unless you're two days old that's, bullshit. All protein is broken down into amino acid chains before absorption.

If that were true, then scrapie, BSE (mad cow disease), and other transmissible encephalopathies would not exist.

Re:We all know what happens when stories like this (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339950)

Most (if not all) germs in raw milk don't come from inside the cow, they colonise the milk in the chain between cow and human. Also it's well known that milk can trigger asthma in some people, it has nothing to do with "heated animal protiens" or the immune system of cows, it's simply an allergic reaction to milk.

Re:We all know what happens when stories like this (2)

Gerzel (240421) | more than 3 years ago | (#36340206)

Why? Because cows have those germs naturally as part of their GI tract. Germs that in large quantities are harmful to humans. Food poisoning from bad milk has been a problem recorded well back into the middle ages and earlier. It has been seen on many different types of farms not just factory farms and from free range cattle and is well studied and known by science.

Your friend has a milk allergy. It's possible that different forms of milk won't aggrevate it as much, but likewise some people will have a horrid milk allergy to a protein in raw milk, but no allergy to those in heat treated milk.

If it was heated animal proteins then why doesn't the steak and other meats bother him? What is so special about milk proteins?

As for the body used undigested proteins...no it doesn't. Your gut is hellishly low pH, no protein is going to survive that pepsin and HCL hellstorm without alteration.

Re:We all know what happens when stories like this (3, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339716)

This guy does not need to be marked as troll. He's right. People don't know what pasteurization is. Ask someone. And many "food purists" think raw milk is better. (It is under extremely controlled situations and if your immune system is capable of handling 'variations' as they occur! hint: many people are so clean that a common cold is a a pygmy disaster waiting to happen to them)

And yes, he is also correct in pointing out that people over-react wildly and stupidly. Maybe not the slashdot crowd, but most definitely the fox-news crowd among others.

Re:We all know what happens when stories like this (1)

BlackBloq (702158) | more than 3 years ago | (#36340564)

You know this how? What an ill informed opinion. As a grocery manager I can tell you people do know what it is and ask about it all the time. There is raw cheese legal to sell as I do at my store. Sign under it says "This product is made from RAW milk". So it sells more. There is a raw milk 'movement' (think bowels). They have to buy direct from farmers and it's a legal grey area. They seem kinda nuts to me though. Yes they really do know what pasteurization is. A LOT of ppl look for raw juice to keep the enzymes alive and all that. Buy a juicer nimwits!

Re:We all know what happens when stories like this (1)

BlackBloq (702158) | more than 3 years ago | (#36340520)

I sell raw cheese but am personally vegan!@
Kinda funny! But not really.

Pasteurisation has no influence on taste (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36340894)

The biggest influence on taste of commercial milk is the separation of fat, re homogenisation. Normal pasteurization (60-70ÂC) has only a very minor effect, baring none, but still have some bacteria so need to be refrigerated. Now UHT pasteurisation (200ÂC) is actually more like a sterilisation and has a great effect on taste, but can be stappled in box *at normal temperature*. There are some milk which I used to buy and it definitively had a strange taste compared to normal pasteurised milk.

US cheese (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36338848)

Good thing USDA doesn't allow unpasteurized cheese here.

Re:US cheese (3, Informative)

cvtan (752695) | more than 3 years ago | (#36338906)

I can buy unpasteurized milk (and maybe yogurt) at the local farmers market, but I think you are right about the cheese (and butter). FYI and off topic: Taste testers at America's Test Kitchen showed that organic milk has a taste inferior to "normal" milk because it has to be pasteurized at a higher temperature.

Organic milk? (1)

denzacar (181829) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339094)

You mean the one NOT squeezed out by robot-cows?
I just love how people use that magic-yet-imprecise word for absolutely everything.

Hey, you know why Han Solo's kids are the healthiest in the Galaxy?
Cause they are organaic. [wikia.com]

Re:Organic milk? (4, Interesting)

cvtan (752695) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339156)

My favorite is BMW advertising that they use organic alcohol in their car-care products. I'd hate to use that inorganic alcohol stuff on MY car! In other environmental news, Poland Spring bottled water now is greener than ever since they have reduced the height of the cap on their plastic bottles: "Smaller Cap=Less Plastic!". The cap is now a choking hazard.

Re:US cheese (2)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339436)

No, you can buy unpasteurized cheese in the US.

Re:US cheese (2)

CRobin (20777) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339640)

Good organic milks are actually pasteurized at a lower temperature, I can not find this taste test in their archive, but it appears the poster has made up his own reasoning. The reason that most organic milks taste different is the cows eat very different diets than their conventional counterparts. In fact with many organic milks the taste varies by season as the grasses/diet changes with the seasons. I would be willing to bet the taste testers didn't like the organic milk because it actually had flavor, in comparison to the bland over pasteurized conventional milk everyone has been accustomed to.

Re:US cheese (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 3 years ago | (#36340110)

Good organic milks are actually pasteurized at a lower temperature...

Maybe so, but all the organic milk you can buy around here is ultra-pasteurized (higher temperature). As for me, I buy the organic milk because I can buy it and not have to worry about it going bad before I use it. (Shelf life is typically five or six weeks.)

Hides? I welcome our new bacterial overlords! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36338866)

That must be one smart bacteria! I for one welcome our new bacterial overlords!

"The superbug isn't a concern... (1)

ridgecritter (934252) | more than 3 years ago | (#36338882)

"... in pasteurized dairy products."

Right. As if the only route by which this organism could get to humans is through dairy products. Scenario: dairy worker, gets scratched and infected with superbug at work, sees doctor for treatment (unsuccessful), enters hospital for treatment, infection spreads, becomes one more nocosomial infection we have to deal with.

Re:"The superbug isn't a concern... (4, Insightful)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 3 years ago | (#36338900)

I'm pretty sure you may want to read the sentence that comes before that one. No one's saying it's not a concern, just that it doesn't survive the pasteurization process. Which makes sense, because pasteurization involves a great deal of heat, and the kind of microbes that infect the human body tend not to do well with extreme levels of heat.

Re:"The superbug isn't a concern... (1)

ridgecritter (934252) | more than 3 years ago | (#36338978)

Well, fair enough and point taken. I misconstrued the quoted sentence as happytalk intended to minimize the hazards of a new MRSA strain and conflated it with my long-standing concerns with the near-universal use of antibiotics in raising animals in the meat and dairy industries.

Re:"The superbug isn't a concern... (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339116)

In another world, that might be a fair and major concern, but considering that this is a piece of science journalism intended to notify the public about something bad, it's a very high priority to prevent mass panic. If the article sought to trivialize the threat posed by antibiotic abuse, it probably wouldn't use the word 'superbug,' which has become tightly connected with factory farming and hospital hypersterilization.

Scaring you away from healthy foods (-1)

Eukariote (881204) | more than 3 years ago | (#36338896)

These scare stories seem designed to keep people from consuming healthy foods such as raw milk. Another example: the many stories about mercury in fish. What you won't read about is that the selenium present in the same fish compensates for what little mercury is there.

Re:Scaring you away from healthy foods (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36339108)

the selenium present in the same fish compensates for what little mercury is there

Hmmm... no.

Re:Scaring you away from healthy foods (3, Informative)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339150)

Re:Scaring you away from healthy foods (1, Interesting)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339242)

Except in your example, and that of the CDC, the cheeses are all soft. Soft cheeses don't develop proper cultures to kill off the bad bacteria cultures that promote proper flavoring, textures and so on. Then again, I drank raw milk for 20 years. My parents, grand parents, and their parents before them drank it for years as well. I suppose there's more of an issue in this day and age of people not following what we'd call on the farm of 'don't wipe your mouth with shit' method of keeping things clean. Seriously? My grandmother, mother, and so on were religious in cleaning prep before doing kitchen work. The shit I see today from people makes me cringe.

Personally? I'd lay more blame at the generation of people who use the antibacterial handsoaps/wipes/lotions/etc for contributing to this mess than anything. And I'll say it again. I fucking told you, that you'd doom us all.

Re:Scaring you away from healthy foods (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339322)

antibacterial is completely different from antibiotic, topical antibacterials do not function at all the same way they are just general antiseptics.

Re:Scaring you away from healthy foods (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339368)

They do. Much like I replied to the other post, google and other search engines are your friend. Antiseptics kill(not all are equal however). Antibacterials can promote selective resistances, and force bacteria to become resistant to antibiotics.

Re:Scaring you away from healthy foods (1, Informative)

russotto (537200) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339338)

Personally? I'd lay more blame at the generation of people who use the antibacterial handsoaps/wipes/lotions/etc for contributing to this mess than anything. And I'll say it again. I fucking told you, that you'd doom us all.

Triclosan use doesn't promote bacteria resistant to antibiotics.

Re:Scaring you away from healthy foods (5, Informative)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339364)

Really now? You could just use google and have saved me the 10 seconds to point out what I already knew what right. It does indeed promote bacterial resistance to antibiotics.

http://jac.oxfordjournals.org/content/54/3/621.short [oxfordjournals.org]

Re:Scaring you away from healthy foods (2)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339850)

Then again, I drank raw milk for 20 years. My parents, grand parents, and their parents before them drank it for years as well. I suppose there's more of an issue in this day and age of people not following what we'd call on the farm of 'don't wipe your mouth with shit' method of keeping things clean.

I congratulate you and your family for not getting sick from raw milk.
But what works on the farm rarely works when scaled up to industrial quantities.

Further, your anecdotal evidence is overruled by the mountains of historically reported illnesses and deaths from raw milk contamination of:
e-coli, tuberculosis, diphtheria, typhoid fever, salmonella, listeria, campylobacter and brucella

Pasteurization is not some conspiracy to pollute your precious bodily fluids or restrict your god given rights.
It saves lives.

Re:Scaring you away from healthy foods (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 3 years ago | (#36340838)

I agree and that was my point. AKA the 'don't wipe your mouth with shit' because when you're doing things on your own farm, you're more careful about how you're cleaning a teat. The same reason why when you're slaughtering, you're careful not to puncture the intestines, kidney's, bladder too. But on an industrial process? Pft.

Pasteurization is fine and all that, but don't dictate to me that it's illegal if I own cows and want to get milk unpasteurized, and drink it myself, for my own use.

Re:Scaring you away from healthy foods (2)

cvtan (752695) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339172)

Didn't pasteurization become routine because people died from contaminated raw milk?

Re:Scaring you away from healthy foods (3, Informative)

compro01 (777531) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339586)

Yes, many diseases were transmitted via unpasteurized milk, particularly tuberculosis.

And there it is (5, Interesting)

erroneus (253617) | more than 3 years ago | (#36338902)

Not long ago, there was a story about a group suing the FDA to stop antibiotic use on cows. [slashdot.org]

It has been known for a long time that the continuous use of antibiotics lead to the cultivation of "superbugs." And here we have it now.

Will the FDA actually take notice on this issue now? We'll see I guess...

Re:And there it is (4, Interesting)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#36338932)

But think of the profit loss! You think this country was founded on the principles of taking care of future generations?

Gimmie my quick buck and to hell with the future.

Yes I'm being satirical but its pretty much how everything works. From superbugs to climate change to renewable resources to giving away liberties to fight the 'secret new enemy'

Re:And there it is (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 3 years ago | (#36340142)

Thats funny, I dont think it was founded on either of those principals. I rather thought "freedom" and "restricted government" were the primary principles.

But no, carry on, lots of regulation is exactly what the founders meant with the 10th amendment.

(NB-- I actually think this might be a good place for regulation-- but to state that thats one of the founding principles is absurd)

It's bigger than the FDA (1)

cultiv8 (1660093) | more than 3 years ago | (#36338950)

Unless I'm missing something, it's the widespread use of antibiotics in general, not just on cows, that leads to so-called "superbugs".

Re:It's bigger than the FDA (3, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339038)

Hehe... no, you didn't miss anything. What you did do, however, is presume my statements were limited to bovine livestock. And I am speaking of the prophylactic use of antibiotics in the dairy industry, it's true, but I did not specify.

The problem is clear, present, immediate and demonstrable. For the FDA to fail to act now would mean they are ignoring the facts as available to the world public. Even the US government which has long been a denier of climate change has eventually acknowledged it as fact.

Re:It's bigger than the FDA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36339052)

Casual googling gives me figures of 50% to 80% used as cattle growth promoters.

Re:It's bigger than the FDA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36339226)

Pretty much.
I don't use them unless it is an actual, full-on bad infection.

That means for washing too.
Boiling water + speed = death to everything bad besides things that even antibiotics cannot prevent.
And extremophiles tend not to exist in normal conditions unless brought there.

Drug abuse can be an innocent thing. But this is what they use to their advantage since most people don't have a clue about such things.
Humans do it all the time without realising it. And it is one of the biggest reasons people are falling ill so much because their bodies are becoming weak to strains of infections because ABs have been filling in the role of the immune system.
Most infections are considerably worse in later life than younger life. Sometimes even lethal.
The more and more these are used and the more offspring these actions are passed on to, the weaker the species is going to end up and inevitably going to result in extinctions of mass numbers...
This right here could well be the start of something huge for all we know. It should be monitored very, very closely.

Re:It's bigger than the FDA (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339308)

over use in general causes it, agribusiness makes over use of antibiotics a primary part of their operation in order to grow bigger fatter animals faster.

Re:It's bigger than the FDA (1)

OFnow (1098151) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339962)

...agribusiness makes over use of antibiotics a primary part of their operation in order to grow bigger fatter animals faster.

In the case of cows in feedlots, they feed'em antibiotics because corn makes cows sick, so they try to keep the cows healthy enough long enough to make feedlots profitable.

Re:And there it is (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339212)

It has been known for a long time that the continuous use of antibiotics lead to the cultivation of "superbugs." And here we have it now.

Well what the hell do you expect? Idiots from marketing, to 'health' to government have spent the last 10 years have been telling people to use shit like *insert antibacterial* crap.

Re:And there it is (1)

chooks (71012) | more than 3 years ago | (#36340354)

This is pretty old news. There are papers from 1980 that talk about chloramphenicol resistant (a really strong antibiotic) bug transmission from dairy farm to human. (An epidemic of resistant Salmonella in a nursery. Animal-to-human spread. Lyons RW, Samples CL, DeSilva HN, Ross KA, Julian EM, Checko PJ.JAMA. 1980 Feb 8;243(6):546-7.)

Re:And there it is (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 3 years ago | (#36340750)

They're much too busy rubber stamping hair and penis pills and otherwise funneling profits into big tobacco and big pharma to concern themselves with such trivialities as human health.

Agri-Pharma Lobby (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36340902)

Problem is, you're going up against some of the biggest, and most powerful lobbies ever seen.
When you've got both the agricultural lobby [prwatch.org] and the pharmaceutical lobby both agreeing on something there's NO WAY you're going to get enough time with your congress critter to make a dent.

We'd sooner get the corn ethanol mandate removed before getting antibiotic use curbed.

Re:And there it is (1)

doccus (2020662) | more than 3 years ago | (#36341144)

A bit too late, I'm afraid .. methinks the damage is done

Re:And there it is (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#36341704)

Will the FDA actually take notice on this issue now? We'll see I guess...

They HAVE taken notice. Their solution is to ban unpasteurized dairy products, going so far as to raid health food stores and Amish farmers.

antibiotic resistance has already been solved (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36338936)

I just posted on reddit under reddit/r/science because I got tired of reading news pieces like this. Antibiotic resistance has been taken care of by the use of bacteriophages. Basically phages are viruses for bacteria and they continually evolve with the ever evolving strains of bacteria. For each type of bacteria and the different strains there is a phage which will kill it.

For more info please read my post: http://www.reddit.com/r/science/comments/hr0gk/hey_redditrscience_just_so_you_all_knowwe_have/

Now if we could just get big pharma behind these non-patentable viruses found in nature and we'd see wide spread use of them in the west...

Re:antibiotic resistance has already been solved (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339392)

so swallow a spider to swallow the fly? no thanks

Re:antibiotic resistance has already been solved (2)

Orangebeard (1206886) | more than 3 years ago | (#36340418)

Bacteriophages have no ability to infect humans. In fact, they can only infect a specific kind of bacteria; it won't kill other bacteria. Which is really good because if it was so easy for viruses to jump from one species to another, we'd all be dead already. Phage literally means "to eat". Once all the bacteria are dead, their food will be gone and the bacteriophages will die off.

Phages could be very useful as another line of defense against bacteria. I know if I was infected with antibiotic resistant bacteria and was going to die, having more options available would be more than welcome. Not only that but viruses in general are going to be very useful in the future from gene therapy (which might just cure HIV), to attacking cancer cells (talk about swallowing a spider what with chemo and radiation; viruses would be far more targeted and elegant).

Re:antibiotic resistance has already been solved (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 3 years ago | (#36340812)

More like swallow a slightly toxic fly to poison the spider.

Re:antibiotic resistance has already been solved (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36339484)

Obligatory:

Skinner: Well, I was wrong; the lizards are a godsend.
Lisa: But isn't that a bit short-sighted? What happens when we're overrun by lizards?
Skinner: No problem. We simply release wave after wave of Chinese needle snakes. They'll wipe out the lizards.
Lisa: But aren't the snakes even worse?
Skinner: Yes, but we're prepared for that. We've lined up a fabulous type of gorilla that thrives on snake meat.
Lisa: But then we're stuck with gorillas!
Skinner: No, that's the beautiful part. When wintertime rolls around, the gorillas simply freeze to death. [edit]

Evolving (1)

Ceiynt (993620) | more than 3 years ago | (#36338948)

Do they really expect these things to never evolve? We feed them enough drugs for long enough, the survivors will pass on whatever it was that allowed them to survive to the next generation. Sooner or later, they have a whole colony that is immune to drug X and Y, we just need to find drug Z and AA, and in another 50-100 years, repeat. Sooner or later, we'll be able to go back to drug X and Y.

Re:Evolving (1)

RuiFerreira (791654) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339058)

It would be good, but what would be the reason for the descent of that colony to stop being immune to the previous drugs?

Re:Evolving (4, Insightful)

jamesh (87723) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339180)

It would be good, but what would be the reason for the descent of that colony to stop being immune to the previous drugs?

genetic bitrot

Re:Evolving (4, Informative)

tsotha (720379) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339314)

Because the mechanisms that allow a bacteria to survive exposure to a given antibiotic come at a cost. It's not the genes themselves that confer resistance - it's the expression of those genes. And the same process that introduced the resistance-conferring gene works to eliminate it if it's no longer needed.

For example, there is a class of antibiotics that work by dissolving the bacterial cell wall. After repeated exposure germs evolve thicker cell walls, which makes this class of antibiotics less and less effective. But in its absence the thicker-walled bacteria version will be out-competed by its thinner-walled brethren, since thin walls are less resource intensive.

For the most part the antibiotics we use are just synthetic versions of chemicals secreted by various organisms (bacteria and fungi, mostly). If bacteria could pass down cost-free resistance they'd already be immune to anything we could throw at them.

Re:Evolving (2)

HForN (1095499) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339366)

The mutations are generally costly. Antibacterials, for example, target molecules that only bacteria have to have a minimal effect on humans, like how penicillin works on bacterial cell walls. Those molecules are originally there basically because it benefits them in some way. Since taking even a huge cost is better than dying, those that do away with what the antibacterial attacks would live and propagate. Naturally, once you stop using the antibacterial by switching to Z/AA, there's no benefit to living without the original molecule, but there is a heavy cost, so generations later it'll come back, letting us use X/Y again. The key is having enough time to make sure resistance is completely gone before going back to X/Y, otherwise it won't be long until they're completely resistant again.

Article, for those without access (5, Informative)

ridgecritter (934252) | more than 3 years ago | (#36338982)

http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2011/06/new-superbug-found-in-cows-and-p.html?ref=hp [sciencemag.org]

A novel form of deadly drug-resistant bacteria that hides from a standard test has turned up in Europe. Researchers found the so-called MRSA strain in both dairy cows and humans in the United Kingdom, suggesting that it might be passed from dairies to the general population. But before you toss your milk, don't panic: The superbug isn't a concern in pasteurized dairy products.

MRSA, short for meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, is a drug-resistant form of the widespread and normally harmless S. aureus bacteria. Many people walk around with MRSA in their noses or on their skin yet don't get sick. But in some hospital patients and people with weakened immune systems, MRSA thrives, and it is blamed for about 19,000 hospital deaths a year in the United States.

Mark Holmes of the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom and colleagues stumbled upon the new strain while studying mastitis, or infected udders, in U.K. dairy cows. Some milk samples from sick cows contained S. aureus bacteria that grew in the presence of antibiotics, which is one test for MRSAs. Yet the same samples turned up negative for the drug-defying bacterium when the team used PCR, a DNA amplification technique, to detect a gene called mecA, which is found in all MRSA strains.

The PCR test doesn't always pick up variants of the gene it's meant to detect, however. To check this, the researchers sent a cow S. aureus sample to the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge, which sequenced the bacterium's entire genome. "Lo and behold, there was a mecA gene there," one whose sequence overlapped with the better-known mecA by a surprisingly low 60%, Holmes said today in a press conference.

The researchers then looked for this mecA gene in people. They tested 74 samples of S. aureus isolated from people from the United Kingdom and Denmark that were drug resistant in the antibiotic growth test but not in the PCR test—most from carriers but some from patients who were sickened by MRSA. They found the new mecA in about two-thirds of the samples, they report today in The Lancet Infectious Diseases. A nearly identical mecA gene has also now been reported in human samples from Germany and Ireland.

The strain is still relatively rare—it probably makes up less than 1% of all detected MRSA cases, the U.K. team says. But its prevalence appears to have risen in the past decade. "More likely it's been around in the environment for a long time, and it's just getting into the human population," says University College Dublin microbiologist David Coleman, whose team reports on the Irish samples today in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.

The new superbug probably isn't leading to missed infections, at least in the United Kingdom, because hospitals that suspect a patient is infected with an MRSA nearly always use the antibiotic growth test in addition to PCR, Holmes says. (Patients with a confirmed infection then receive antibiotics that work on MRSAs.) However, many hospitals in continental Europe are moving toward using only PCR tests; this is a warning that those tests need to be modified to test for the new mecA gene, Holmes says.

The study also points to dairy cows as a possible reservoir for the bug, just as pigs seem to pass MRSA to humans in the Netherlands. The bug probably doesn't get to humans through the milk supply, because almost all milk in the United Kingdom and Denmark is pasteurized, a process that kills bacteria. But workers who come into contact with infected dairy cows could be carriers. Holmes's team reports "circumstantial evidence" for this, such as the fact that genetic subtypes of the human and cow samples from the same geographical areas were nearly identical. "The main worry would be that these cows represent a pool of the bacteria" that farm workers spread into the human population, Holmes says.

The big mystery, says Patrick Schlievert of the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, is where the unusual mecA gene came from. One possibility is that it originated long ago in a patient treated with multiple antibiotics and later somehow got into cows. "This should trigger an awful lot of research to figure out what is going on here," he says.

antibiotic resistance has solved ~80 years ago (2, Interesting)

DevotedFollower (2232516) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339016)

I am getting tired of reading these news articles about antibiotic resistance. We have the solution to dealing with antibiotic resistance from nature. Bacteriophages are viruses that only attack bacteria and can be used to treat patients or food for bacterial infections. They evolved with bacteria as new strains appear. For each type of bacteria and their different strains there are phages that will work against them. I made a post on reddit about my ordeal with an antibiotic resistant infection I had and how phagetherapy saved me. Feel free to pm me on either site if you have more questions. http://www.reddit.com/r/science/comments/hr0gk/hey_redditrscience_just_so_you_all_knowwe_have/ [reddit.com]

This is scary (0)

Edmund Blackadder (559735) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339040)

Terrible news. And no pasteurization does not make me feel safer. If the stuff was found in dairy cows it would not be surprising if a similar bacteria was found in cows raised for food. And guess what, most people do not cook beef well done.

Furthermore, if cows become incubators of drug resistant bacteria (which seems to be happening), then it is only a matter of time before some drug resistant bacteria that can be transmitted by air mutates up in a cow's belly and gets transferred to a human handler of the cow. And then we have the deadly drug resistant flu of our worst nightmares and our most mediocre science fiction thrillers. It will be transmitted from human to human by air so it won't matter how well you cook your beef or whether you eat beef at all.

We just have to ban feeding antibiotics to cows, period. There is no excuse for exposing us to these risks.

Re:This is scary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36339842)

'There is no excuse for exposing us to these risks'

What if some gov't idiot speculated a 90% chance the US Medical Industry could find a costly cure?

Just call it 'Economic Stiumulus' and spend human lives in the name of progress.

Business as usual

Haw-Haw! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36339090)

I'm vegan!

Re:Haw-Haw! (1)

aix tom (902140) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339124)

So don't worry about this, worry about EHEC in vegetables instead. Haw-Haw!

Re:Haw-Haw! (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339770)

For you, there's a version in Spanish cucumbers.

Zombie Cow Infestation: Day 1 (1)

Dutchmaan (442553) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339098)

You heard it here first! MoooooooooooooooooooCHOMP!

Pasteurization (2)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339100)

Maybe this will put a stop to the raw milk nonsense.

Re:Pasteurization (1, Insightful)

Rufty (37223) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339694)

Maybe this will put a stop to the rare steak nonsense.

Re:Pasteurization (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 3 years ago | (#36340040)

What rare steak nonsense?

Re:Pasteurization (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 3 years ago | (#36340044)

I doubt it, resturants want you to have your steak bloody because cooking it properly takes 20-30min and they want you occuping the table for as short a time as possible.

Re:Pasteurization (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36340420)

may also have to do with the idea that when you cook a strip steak to well, it loses the tenderness and flavor. if you're going to get the same quality out of a strip steak you would a sirloin, why would you buy the strip when it's 30%-40% more expensive?

Re:Pasteurization (1)

AfroTrance (984230) | more than 3 years ago | (#36340550)

Since when is cooking a steak well done cooking it "properly"?

I define "properly" as high heat, 3-4 minutes each side, for a sirloin cut.

Re:Pasteurization (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36340606)

Restaurants cook it properly, as in medium rare range, in order to serve the steak at its best. Over done just toughens the meat and often dries it out if not enough resting time is allowed to bring it up to that temp over cooked temp. Why would any restaurant who is proud of their quality, fresh from the land, products EVER want to serve something in a way that diminishes the great products they serve? If you afraid of the food, then STOP buying it from places you don't trust and know how the animal was cared for.

Re:Pasteurization (1)

bloodhawk (813939) | more than 3 years ago | (#36341524)

Actually it is more that once you cook a steak beyond medium rare you may as well be eating a cheap piece of supermarket meat as you lose all the flavour anyway. What is the point of being in a restaurant if any old piece of crap would have kept you happy. PS: even a well done piece of meat only takes 3 or 4 minutes each side, 20-30 mins is cremated.

Re:Pasteurization (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36339756)

Not until we first deal with the issue of fact resistant people. Nonsense evolves in the face of facts just like bacteria do with antibiotics. Nothing reasons away reality like a true believer.

Re:Pasteurization (1)

HappyCycling (565803) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339942)

Why even drink the milk from another animal? There are many alternatives that aren't full of growth-hormones such as soy and almond.

Re:Pasteurization (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36340658)

You might want to read into some of those "others" a little more. Here's a snippet from a medical study - "The results of the study indicate that soymilk consumption may modify circulating estrone concentrations in men." I like tits on my women... not myself.

Re:Pasteurization (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36340850)

At first I though you we're saying that soy and alrnond are growth hormones and I was gonna fact-nazi u.
I'll j'ust grammer nazi you intsead with bonus tpyos adn other blatant errors. ;-D

There are many [milk] alternatives, such as soy [milk] and almond [milk], that aren't full of growth-hormones.

Re:Pasteurization (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36341454)

Get your milk from a normal sized farm. No anti-biotics in the milk and no growth hormones either.

I drink raw cow and goat milk, have done all my life. Never been sick because of it.

Re:Pasteurization (1)

Gaygirlie (1657131) | more than 3 years ago | (#36341518)

Why even drink the milk from another animal? There are many alternatives that aren't full of growth-hormones such as soy and almond.

Those are indeed good alternatives. I personally like the taste of rice milk the best, it leaves the most pleasant aftertaste in your mouth.

But there's just one issue: these dairy milk alternatives are terribly expensive, atleast in here. When the alternatives cost 150%-300% of the price of dairy milk it's no wonder people rather choose the latter.

Re:Pasteurization (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 3 years ago | (#36340058)

Today is the first I've heard of the "raw milk nonsense". I'm frankly amazed this exists at all. In Australia and Canada and probably other countries selling unpasturised milk is illegal.

Re:Pasteurization (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36340460)

Raw milk is not nonsense. If pasteurization kills harmful "bugs" does it not stand to reason that beneficial bacteria, enzymes, and vitamins might also be destroyed by the same process? Also, research has found that people who drink raw milk are also exposed to some of the "bad" bugs in milk, but as a consequence often have better resistance to disease.

Now if you want to talk nonsense I would offer that it is rather strange that we drink another animals bodily fluids at all.

Re:Pasteurization (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36340892)

the concept that good husbandry of live stock and a contaminant free supply chain before resorting to pasturiztion and antibiotics seems to have been lost along with the idea that a probiotic diet rather than a sterilized one is normal, healthy and more likely to be protective of new novel infection.

Out breaks should be seen as indicators of poor practice in areas of the foodchain. In the UK the it was discovered that there was endemic salmonella in poltry. Inoculation of every bird is now mandatory.and the husbandry that failed to control or eliminate salmonella continues. If it becomes drug resistant another infection results there are no controls.

I'm more worried about the other one (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36339142)

So there's an outbreak of E. coli going on, resistant to at least 8 antibiotics, that infected 2000 people and killed 19, an no one knows its source (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jun/03/e-coli-infections-spread-germany?intcmp=239), so let's worry about this one in the first place, shall we?

The new superbug strain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36339164)

Another side effect of `moderncattle feeding techiques that destroyed economies all over the southern hemisphere...

Probably cause we use human waste on pastures (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36339480)

Your food was probably grown in pollution from your local waste water treatment plant - human waste + industrial waste - u flush it, they spread it, u eat it, etc...

http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h112-254
Call congress person - demand they get that out of committee...

More about using human waste on farm fields:
http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2011/05/31/2339099/sludge-smell-has-residents-complaining.html
http://www.sludgefacts.org/
http://www.sewagesludgeactionnetwork.com
http://law.justia.com/cfr/title40/40-29.0.1.2.40.2.html

More about dangerous ecoli/mrsa coming from sewage treatment plants:
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0043135409008082
http://mrsaisairborne.blogspot.com/2008/04/mrsa-waterborne-and-airborne.html

MRSA showing up in meat:
http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/04/15/us-usa-meat-bacteria-idUSTRE73E80D20110415

Meat industry covering:
http://www.cattlenetwork.com/cattle-news/latest/Better-safety-practices-reduce-E-coli-risks-US-meat-industry-says--123131003.html

More about what it did to McElmurry farm:
http://www.sludgenews.org/resources/documents/McElmurrayTestimony.pdf

The more you know, the more u wanna grow your own...

Get informed. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36340544)

It is pretty sad. We don't get to eat what we choose. Raw milk never was the problem. Many of those bacteria are actually healthy and are needed to properly digest the milk in the human body; as a side not - we are not actually meant to consume cow milk. Only over generations have people adapted to it for survival. Lactose intolerant anyone? 80% of us are. In general we should be consuming a lot less of it in straight form pasteurized or not, but to ban all raw milk usage is ridiculous and is ruining many small farms across America right now. A farm in my own state was recently shut down by the FDA, because of over blown fear on a cheese that weren't even selling. Instead of working with them the FDA demanded they recall ALL of their products whether they were tainted or not. More recently, an Amish farm was raided (with loaded weapons) after a year and half investigation into their shipping of raw milk across the state lines. What's next eggs, wine, water... where does it end? I can't even drive across the Canadian border and bring back Brie to eat in the safety of my home for fear of prosecution!

The food police are NOT needed to tell us what to eat. They need to get involved were the real problems are. Mass production and over processed garbage that ends up on 90% of our plates. The vast majority has no clue what real food is anymore or how it arrived before them. Get you heads out of the sand and read up before you speak up.

When you read these stories of people getting sick from food... have you noticed where said food originated? It ain't the small farm.

Re:Get informed. (2)

Plainswind (2089218) | more than 3 years ago | (#36341412)

80% lactose intolerant? Only for certain populations. In others, 90% of the population can handle lactose, and 10% lactose intolerant. Globally speaking, lactose intolerance is around 50%.

Well, there is a "superbug" out there right now (1)

NiklasD (766084) | more than 3 years ago | (#36340562)

As you may already have heard, a new strain of E. Coli (EHEC) is spreading in Central Europe [nytimes.com] (northern Germany seems to be the epicenter) and has killed 18 people so far.

So much for raw milk drinker (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36340814)

Now when the next raw milk drinker comes to me with the obvious benefit of raw milk, I can send him this article to read, and wish him good luck with his darwin award.
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