Ethanol production. Evidently, unwanted bacteria cause problems in the production of ethanol, in addition to causing troublesome infections in humans and animals. Common bacteria present in corn mixes prevent the formation of ethanol, producing lactic acid instead. To forestall this development, ethanol producers use antibiotics in distilling ethanol, Forbes reports.

On Wednesday the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, HHS and Education held a hearing on a National Strategy to Reduce Healthcare Associated Infections. Witnesses included the Directors of the CDC, and AHRQ, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health of HHS, a representative for the American Hosptal Association, representative for the New York State Department of Health, and Peter Pronovost of Johns Hopkins (and checklist fame).

We recently launched the Global Antibiotic Resistance Partnership (GARP) to extend the work of Extending the Cure to five developing countries - China, India, Kenya, South Africa and Vietnam.  Although these countries do not use antibiotics at nearly the intensity that one sees in the United States, they already face high levels of resistance, particularly in hospital-acquired infections. 

Jasper Palmer is a patient escort who had a good idea.

Progress

While mutations in the bacterial genome can make individual bacteria resistant to drugs, another underappreciated weapon of pathogenic bacteria is their ability to communicate and cooperate to further enhance their abilities to invade and persist within a host. But recently scientists have begun to attack this problem.

In today’s New York Times, op-ed columnist Nicholas Kristof switches gears from his usual discussions of the genocide in Darfur or sex trafficking in Cambodia to a subject much closer to home – MRSA infections and the U.S. hog farm industry.

I was happy to see the New York Times writing about drug resistance and overuse of antibiotics yesterday. If you haven’t seen it yet: Free Antibiotics May Contribute to Drug Resistance, Officials Say. The content is good, the title less so. The title of the related blog post, Are Free Antibiotics Good for You? is even more misleading.

A two-month-old black rhino toddles unsteadily into the clearing to adoring oohs and aahs, her back protected from the bright sun by a red cloth, white salve on her ears to help heal some rough spots, and a gentle and patient guide beside her. This Kenyan baby will be nurtured for two more years at this suburban preserve before release into the wilds of Tsavo National Park. At that point, a normal lifespan’s survival would be nearly assured, despite having been abandoned by her mother for reasons we’ll never know, possibly after a premature birth.

Maya recently highlighted how production of inexpensive meat, bolstered by widespread use of antibiotics to keep farmed animals from developing infections, may indirectly cause humans substantial harm through the development of antibiotic resistance. These animal farming operations, as well as our own healthcare systems, rely on antibiotics to be available at fairly low prices.

Production of cheap food has significant costs—to government, the environment and public health. Use of antibiotics and concern over resistant bacteria were issues raised during a panel discussion on food safety regulation at Resources for the Future today.

Michael Bennett and his father Mark Bennett were an exceptionally close father and son. Mark was a decorated WWII combat veteran, former actor and stockbroker, who lived near his family in Baltimore. He spent years enjoying the company of his son and five grandchildren, but in February of 2004 the robustly viable senior developed a flu virus. Worried that the flu was developing into pneumonia, Michael took his father to the hospital, where he showed immediate improvement – they expected a short hospital stay.

In March of 1978 a patient was admitted to the University of Virginia (UVA) Medical Center who was infected with MRSA, a type of antibiotic-resistant staph.

Paul Miller and Michael Dunne are scientists. Dr. Miller is a microbiologist whose training focused on understanding how the genes of bacteria work.