I have a new story up at SELF Magazine, where I’m privileged to do a long and often investigative piece about once a year. This one is close to my heart: It took two years to complete, and in that time I conducted 37 interviews and reviewed several hundred scientific papers.
Here’s what it says: The misuse of antibiotics in agriculture, particularly in livestock-raising, is creating antibiotic-resistant foodborne illnesses that are taking victims and their doctors by surprise.
We talk pretty often here about drug-resistant bacteria arising as a result of farm antibiotic use, and moving off the farm in a variety of ways. There is a lot of dispute, of course, about whether farm-caused antibiotic resistance has much effect on human health, or whether the various resistant illnesses that people contract arise instead from antibiotic misuse in daily life or in hospitals and health care.
But in this case, the illnesses are being caused specifically by classic foodborne bugs that have become resistant and are making people sick when the food is handled or eaten. The evidence is not 100 percent — no evidence ever is — but to me, these illnesses demonstrate the most direct link yet between antibiotic use on farms, and human illness far away from farm areas.