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B.C. poultry industry warned to halt use of antibiotic
Level of drug-resistant bacteria spikes in grocery-store chicken
The Public Health Agency of Canada is warning B.C. poultry farmers and veterinarians to stop using a bovine antibiotic on chickens.
The agency believes the practice is behind a significant spike in drug-resistant Campylobacter bacteria found in chicken tested from grocery stores.
The bacteria are resistant to an antibiotic commonly used to treat respiratory infections in human beings and cattle.
The dramatic spike in the bacteria was first noticed during routine sampling of B.C. chicken from grocery stores in 2009. Levels have remained stubbornly above normal in this province ever since.
Positive tests for the resistant strain of Campylobacter in retail chicken have ranged as high as 40 per cent in B.C. and 28 per cent in Saskatchewan compared with an average of less than four per cent in the other provinces monitored by the Canadian Integrated Program for Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance. Campylobacter is the most common food-borne pathogen in Canada; it is usually associated with substandard food handling and consumption of undercooked chicken.
The rate of human Campylobacter poisoning in B.C. has been about 30 per cent above the national average during the past 10 years, according to the BC Centre for Disease Control. People who contract drug-resistant Campylobacter from contaminated food can become more severely ill with diarrhea, fever and abdominal pain than those who get typical Campylobacter, the bulletin stated.
Thorough cooking kills the bacterium.
A total of 1,750 cases were reported in B.C. during 2009, but it is not known whether any of those cases were antimicrobial resistant.
CIPARS is comparing Campylobacter from human cases in B.C. and Saskatchewan with the bacteria from retail poultry to determine whether the same pathogen is infecting people who eat poultry.
A recent bulletin to be released to the web this week by CIPARS attributes the increase in drug-resistant Campylobacter in B.C. chicken to use of the antimicrobial drug fluoroquinolone. The agency says veterinary fluoroquinolones labelled for cattle are being used “off-label” to prevent salmonella in chicken in breeder flocks.
Antibiotics are sometimes used in crowded, large-scale chicken rearing to prevent fast-spreading illnesses from infecting entire flocks.
Health Canada requires fluoroqui-nolone-based veterinary drugs for cattle to carry a warning not to use them in any other species. Public health authorities want to curb the use of flu-oroquinolone in chicken because the risk of spreading drug-resistance to those medications could render them ineffective in human medicine.
It is not unusual for veterinarians to use antibiotics labelled for one species on another animal species, but steps are being taken within the poultry industry to stamp out the practice.
However, veterinarians are approved to prescribe veterinary and human drugs according to the recommendations of Health Canada or off-label at their discretion, according to John Brocklebank, deputy registrar of the College of Veterinarians of B.C.
B.C.’s poultry farming association has issued a warning written by agriculture ministry veterinarian Bill Cox in July instructing producers not to use prescription drugs on their flocks except under veterinary supervision and not to use any drug without a veterinary diagnosis.
Chicken Farmers of Canada executive director Mike Dungate said anti-microbial resistance is one of the industry’s “critical” concerns.
Chicken producers are required to report all medications given to their flocks to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency before they are sent for processing. That information is verified by government veterinarians, according to CFC safety program manager Steve Leech.
The CFC and CIPARS are developing a national on-farm surveillance program designed to record antimicrobial use and pinpoint the sources of antimicrobial-resistant pathogens.
The CFC hopes the program will explain B.C.’s persistently higher incidence of antimicrobial resistant Campylobacter and correlate that with on-farm practices,” Leech said. The CFC maintains there is no conclusive use of veterinary drugs on farms with the drug-resistant bacteria detected in samples taken from chicken in B.C. grocery stores.
But drug-resistant pathogens in food are known to pass to humans, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada. A spike in the incidence of Salmonella Heidelberg found in chicken tested from grocery stores in Quebec in 2003 and 2004 was accompanied by a rise in human cases of the same drug-resistant Salmonella in humans.
Although CIPARS doesn’t have the authority to collect data about veterinary antibiotic use at the provincial level, researchers learned from industry sources that 70 per cent of hatchery operators in Quebec were using the antibiotic ceftiofur on healthy birds to prevent E. coli infections, according to Rebecca Irwin, director of the surveillance division of the Laboratory for Foodborne and Zoonoses at the Public Health Agency of Canada.
The incidence of the drug-resistant strain subsided in both humans and chickens after Quebec hatchery farmers voluntarily stopped using the anti-biotic, she said.
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Hydrogen Peroxide Provides Clues to Immunity, Wound Healing, Tumor Biology
Madison, Wisconsin – Hydrogen peroxide isn’t just that bottled colorless liquid in the back of the medicine cabinet that’s used occasionally for cleaning scraped knees and cut fingers.It’s also a natural chemical in the body that rallies at wound sites, jump-starting immune cells into a series of events.
A burst of hydrogen peroxide causes neutrophils, the immune system’s first responders, to rush to the wound to fight microorganisms, remove damaged tissue and then start the inflammation process.
University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers now have discovered the molecular sensor that detects wound-induced hydrogen peroxide and orchestrates the marshalling of neutrophils and other immune cells, or leukocytes, including those that affect tumors.
Published in the Nov. 20, 2011, advanced online version of the journal Nature, the findings have broad implications for cancer biology as well as wound healing and the way the body fights infections.
“Our findings suggest that in the future we might be able to manipulate the new pathway we’ve found to make immune cells go where we want them to,” says lead author Dr. Anna Huttenlocher of the UW School of Medicine and Public Health (SMPH).
A tumor is a type of unhealed wound, says Huttenlocher. Tumors and wounds both generate high levels of hydrogen peroxide, and immune cells responsible for inflammation seek out wounds as well as tumors.
But inflammatory cells can often be detrimental. The cells can contribute to a tumor’s ability to grow and invade other tissue, and they can cause chronic inflammation at wound sites.
“We now speculate that the recruitment of immune cells for wound healing and tumor growth involves a different molecular pathway than recruitment of immune cells for fighting infections,” says Huttenlocher, a professor of pediatrics and of medical microbiology and immunology in the School of Medicine and Public Health.
The researchers used transparent zebrafish larvae in a model they have developed to study immunity to watch neutrophils move to wounds in the tails of fish larvae.
They found that hydrogen peroxide modified a protein called Lyn, and that the modification let neutrophils go to wound sites along a specific cellular pathway.
“If we blocked Lyn, it’s possible cells could still get to infection sites, where they could be helpful, but not to wounds or tumors, where they could be harmful,” Huttenlocher says.
Sa Kan Yoo was first author on the paper; Taylor W. Starnes and Qing Deng were co-authors.
The experiments showed clearly that Lyn activation was dependent on hydrogen peroxide after tissue injury, and that blocking Lyn reduced the recruitment of neutrophils to wounds. Lyn is expressed specifically in leukocytes as a sensor for hydrogen peroxide.
Lyn is also a member of a powerful class of proteins known as Src family kinases (SFKs). Many of these kinases have been identified as cellular oncogenes, or precursors to cancer.
“Lyn bridges SFKs and the new pathway we have identified, broadly linking wound healing and immunity to changes in cell behavior in cancer,” says Huttenlocher. “That connection may help move us forward with a better understanding of wound healing and cancer.”
Lyn’s connection to hydrogen peroxide should also elevate the chemical’s status from the back of the medicine cabinet to a position of much greater interest.
Date Published: 11/21/2011 Website link: http://www.med.wisc.edu/news-events/news/hydrogen-peroxide-provides-clues-to-immunity-wound-healing-tumor-biology/32917
~ The importance of Water for the Body ~
Common Contaminants in your Tap Water
Drinking water unsafe at thousands of schools
Federal government has done little to monitor the problem, AP finds
Gary Kazanjian / AP
At Lovell High School in Cutler, California, signs posted above the kitchen sink, warn students not to drink from the tap because the water is tainted with nitrates, a potential carcinogen, and DBCP, a pesticide that scientists say may cause male sterility.
The Associated Press
Over the last decade, the drinking water at thousands of schools across the country has been found to contain unsafe levels of lead, pesticides and dozens of other toxins.
An Associated Press investigation found that contaminants have surfaced at public and private schools in all 50 states— in small towns and inner cities alike.
But the problem has gone largely unmonitored by the federal government, even as the number of water safety violations has multiplied.
“It’s an outrage,” said Marc Edwards, an engineer at Virginia Tech University who has been honored for his work on water quality. “If a landlord doesn’t tell a tenant about lead paint in an apartment, he can go to jail. But we have no system to make people follow the rules to keep school children safe?”
The contamination is most apparent at schools with wells, which represent 8 to 11 percent of the nation’s schools. Roughly one of every five schools with its own water supply violated the Safe Drinking Water Act in the past decade, according to data from the Environmental Protection Agency analyzed by the AP.
In California’s farm belt, wells at some schools are so tainted with pesticides that students have taken to stuffing their backpacks with bottled water for fear of getting sick from the drinking fountain.
Experts and children’s advocates complain that responsibility for drinking water is spread among too many local, state and federal agencies, and that risks are going unreported. Finding a solution, they say, would require a costly new national strategy for monitoring water in schools.
Schools with unsafe water represent only a small percentage of the nation’s 132,500 schools. And the EPA says the number of violations spiked over the last decade largely because the government has gradually adopted stricter standards for contaminants such as arsenic and some disinfectants.
Children at risk
Many of the same toxins could also be found in water at homes, offices and businesses. But the contaminants are especially dangerous to children, who drink more water per pound than adults and are more vulnerable to the effects of many hazardous substances.
“There’s a different risk for kids,” said Cynthia Dougherty, head of the EPA’s Office of Groundwater and Drinking Water.
Still, the EPA does not have the authority to require testing for all schools and can only provide guidance on environmental practices.
In recent years, students at a Minnesotaelementary school fell ill after drinking tainted water. A young girl inSeattle got sick, too.
The AP analyzed a database showing federal drinking water violations from 1998 to 2008 in schools with their own water supplies. The findings:
* Water in about 100 school districts and 2,250 schools breached federal safety standards.
* Those schools and districts racked up more than 5,550 separate violations. In 2008, the EPA recorded 577 violations, up from 59 in 1998 — an increase that officials attribute
mainly to tougher rules.
* California, which has the most schools of any state, also recorded the most violations with 612, followed by Ohio (451), Maine (417), Connecticut (318) and Indiana (289).
* Nearly half the violators in California were repeat offenders. One elementary school in TulareCounty, in the farm country of the Central Valley, broke safe-water laws 20 times.
* The most frequently cited contaminant was coliform bacteria, followed by lead and copper, arsenic and nitrates.
The AP analysis has “clearly identified the tip of an iceberg,” said Gina Solomon, a San Francisco physician who serves on an EPA drinking water advisory board. “This tells me there is a widespread problem that needs to be fixed because there are ongoing water quality problems in small and large utilities, as well.”
Schools with wells are required to test their water and report any problems to the state, which is supposed to send all violations to the federal government.
But EPA officials acknowledge the agency’s database of violations is plagued with errors and omissions. And the agency does not specifically monitor incoming state data on school water quality.
Critics say those practices prevent the government from reliably identifying the worst offenders — and carrying out enforcement.
‘Just no excuse’
Scientists say the testing requirements fail to detect dangerous toxins such as lead, which can wreak havoc on major organs and may retard children’s learning abilities.
“There is just no excuse for this. Period,” said California Sen. Barbara Boxer, Democratic chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. “We want to make sure that we fix this problem in a way that it will never happen again, and we can
ensure parents that their children will be safe.”
The problem goes beyond schools that use wells. Schools that draw water from public utilities showed contamination, too, especially older buildings where lead can concentrate at higher levels than in most homes.
In schools with lead-soldered pipes, the metal sometimes flakes off into drinking water. Lead levels can also build up as water sits stagnant over weekends and holidays.
Schools that get water from local utilities are not required to test for toxins because the EPA already regulates water providers. That means there is no way to ensure detection of contaminants caused by schools’ own plumbing.
But voluntary tests in Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Seattleand Los Angeles have found dangerous levels of lead in recent years. And experts warn the real risk to school children is going unreported.
“I really suspect the level of exposure to lead and other metals at schools is underestimated,” said Michael Schock, a corrosion expert with the EPA in Cincinnati. “You just don’t know what is going on in the places you don’t sample.”
Stomach aches, nausea
Since 2004, the agency has been asking states to increase lead monitoring. As of 2006, a survey by the Centers for Disease Control found nearly half of all schools nationwide do not test their water for lead.
Because contaminant levels in water can vary from drinking fountain to drinking fountain, and different children drink different amounts of water, epidemiologists often have trouble measuring the potential threats to children’s health.
But children have suffered health problems attributed to school water:
* In 2001, 28 children at a Worthington, Minn., elementary school experienced severe
stomach aches and nausea after drinking water tainted with lead and copper, the result of a poorly installed treatment system.
* In Seattleseveral years ago, a 6-year-old girl suffered stomach aches and became disoriented and easily exhausted. The girl’s mother asked her daughter’s school to test its water, and also tested a strand of her daughter’s hair. Tests showed high levels of copper
and lead, which figured into state health officials’ decision to phase-in rules requiring schools to test their water for both contaminants.
Many school officials say buying bottled water is less expensive than fixing old pipes. Baltimore, for instance, has spent more than $2.5 million on it over the last six years.
After wrestling with unsafe levels of arsenic for almost two years, administrators in Sterling, Ohio, southeast of Cincinnati, finally bought water coolers for elementary school students last fall. Now they plan to move students to a new building.
In California, the Department of Public Health has given out more than $4 million in recent years to help districts overhaul their water systems.
But school administrators in the farmworker town of Cutler cannot fix chronic water problems at Lovell High School because funding is frozen due to the state’s budget crisis.
Signs posted above the kitchen sink warn students not to drink from the tap because the water is tainted with nitrates, a potential carcinogen, and DBCP, a pesticide scientists say may cause male sterility.
As gym class ended one morning, thirsty basketball players crowded around a five-gallon cooler, the only safe place to get a drink on campus.
“The teachers always remind us to go to the classroom and get a cup of water from the cooler,” said sophomore Israel Aguila. “But the bathroom sinks still work, so sometimes you kind of forget you can’t drink out of them.”
© 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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