F.D.A. orders prescriptions required for livestock antibiotics

Farmers and ranchers will for the first time need a prescription from a veterinarian before using antibiotics in farm animals, in hopes that more judicious use of the drugs will reduce the tens of thousands of human deaths that result each year from the drugs’ overuse.

The Food and Drug Administration announced the new rule Wednesday after trying for more than 35 years to stop farmers and ranchers from feeding antibiotics to cattle, pigs, chickens and other animals simply to help the animals grow larger. Using small amounts of antibiotics over long periods of time leads to the growth of bacteria that are resistant to the drugs’ effects, endangering humans who become infected but cannot be treated with routine antibiotic therapy.

This was a serious effort?

At least two million people are sickened and an estimated 99,000 die every year from hospital-acquired infections, the majority of which result from such resistant strains. It is unknown how many of these illnesses and deaths result from agricultural uses of antibiotics, but about 80 percent of antibiotics sold in the United States are used in animals.

Michael Taylor, the F.D.A.’s deputy commissioner for food, predicted that the new restrictions would save lives because farmers would have to convince a veterinarian that their animals were either sick or at risk of getting a specific illness. Just using the drugs for growth will be disallowed and, it is hoped, this will cut their use sharply. The new requirements will also make obtaining antibiotics more cumbersome and expensive.

“We’re confident that it will result in significant reductions in agricultural antibiotic use,” Mr. Taylor said. “That’s why we’re doing this…”

The F.D.A. believes that veterinarians will be far less likely to endorse indiscriminate drug uses. While doctors have the power to use drugs in ways not approved by the F.D.A., veterinarians are allowed to give a prescription for antibiotics in feed and water only if such uses are approved by the F.D.A…

RTFA for the details of this mostly voluntarily program. Hopefully, the restrictions imposed will inhibit animal protein-growers from devising ways and means around the letter and spirit of the law.

I’m the sort of cynic who ain’t going to be holding his breath.

Coffee shop refuses service for cellphone users

“It’s just a case of common sense really. We wanted to strike a blow for basic manners.

“We just got a little bit fed up with how it made us feel. We feel it’s basic manners to not be talking to someone when you are ordering from us.”

A printed sign has been placed at both the coffee shop, in Grove Road, and on the market stall. It states: “Sorry we are unable to serve you if you are on the phone. Thank you…”

Liz Wyse, of etiquette experts Debrett’s, praised the “brave stand” taken by Mr Groom.

“This is one man battling against something that’s happening everywhere,” she said. “It’s rude to place an order while talking on a mobile phone. There’s no doubt about it.

“You see it all the time. It’s like saying to the person who you are dealing with that they are not as important as the person you are talking to on the phone.

“He is making quite a brave stand and I think he’s performing a public service in teaching people about manners.”

I would go out of my way to patronize Darren Groom’s coffee shop. I would turn my cellphone off going into a shop – if I carried it with me by mistake. As soon as I get into my pickup truck, the phone goes into the “office” which lives between driver and passenger.

I take it back out if I need it – or return home.

Farmers confound public utilities in India – traditional villages in Germany do the same – so can we!


A home in Halliberu – solar panel on the roof

On a January evening, Anand is shelling betel nuts by the light of an electric lamp in Halliberu, his village in India’s Karnataka state.
As his friends gather on the lamp-lit porch to swap stories, children play in the yard…Inside, after decades of cooking in the dark, Anand’s mother prepares the evening meal while a visiting neighbor weaves garlands of flowers.

In October, Bangalore-based Simpa Networks Inc. installed a solar panel on Anand’s whitewashed adobe house along with a small metal box in his living room to monitor electricity usage. The 25-year-old rice farmer, who goes by one name, purchases energy credits to unlock the system via his mobile phone on a pay-as-you-go model.

When his balance runs low, Anand pays 50 rupees ($1) — money he would have otherwise spent on kerosene. Then he receives a text message with a code to punch into the box, giving him about another week of electric light.

When he pays off the full cost of the system in about three years, it will be unlocked and he will get free power.

Continue reading

Devastating bat deaths are traced to fungus from Europe

A mysterious disease that has devastated North America’s bat population was traced…to a killer fungus imported from Europe, probably by an unsuspecting tourist.

Since it was first detected in New York state in 2006, the disease known as white nose syndrome has spread to 19 states and four Canadian provinces. It has wiped out entire bat colonies, killing as many as 6.7m animals, in the worst wildlife crisis in recent memory…

Now a team of researchers led by the University of Winnipeg have established the origins of the fungus, and determined how it kills – by rousing the bats during their winter hibernation season.

“The fungus somehow causes the bats to warm up from hibernation too often,” said Craig Willis, a biologist at the University of Winnipeg who oversaw the study by US and Canadian scientists…The extra effort, shaking bats from their torpor, exhausted the animals’ fat stores far too early in the hibernation season, causing them essentially to starve to death.

The most likely source of the fungus was human. The fungus, which has been identified, as Geomyces destructans, is known to have existed for years in Europe, but it does not kill bats there. In North America, however, the disease has wiped out entire bat colonies and spread as far south as Alabama.

The disease poses no threat to humans but it has knocked out a crucial part of the ecological chain. The average bat eats up to 1,000 of insects a year. Their loss could cost US farmers up to $3.7 billion a year…

The findings were seen as an important step to unravelling the mystery of the bat deaths

The study offers no immediate fix. It is not clear how or why European bats developed resistance to the fungus or how it can be better contained. Researchers are not yet able to track the fungus to a particular country or cave in Europe.

At least it’s a start. Finding the broad source now aids in finding a spot source from which the ailment may be attacked from several directions.

Mother finds her “stillborn” baby alive in the hospital morgue


Analia Bouter and hubby, Fabian Veron
Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

An Argentine woman who gave birth to a “stillborn” baby found her alive in a hospital morgue 12 hours after doctors pronounced the infant dead.

Analía Bouter, from Fontana, Argentina, said she insisted on seeing the body of her daughter, born three months prematurely, to say goodbye to her properly and was taken to the morgue by staff at the Perrando Hospital in Chaco province the north of the country. The baby was apparently taken directly to the morgue after being declared dead.

But only 12 hours after her baby was pronounced dead by doctors last Tuesday morning, Mrs Bouter found her breathing in one of the morgue’s drawers.

Mrs Bouter told Argentine television that she thought she was hallucinating when she opened the tiny coffin and found the infant still breathing. She said the baby let out a whimper as if she was waking up from a nap…

I folded back the blanket and we saw her hands moving. I couldn’t believe it. I was speechless,” he husband said.

A morgue worker quickly picked up the girl and confirmed she was alive. Then, Mrs Bouter’s brother grabbed the baby and ran to the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit, shouting for help.

The baby was so cold, Mrs Bouter said, that “it was like carrying a bottle of ice…”

“Luz is a miracle,” Mrs Bouter said. “If we had left it to go and see her another day, she may not have held on.”

Luz was born prematurely on April 3 after only six months of pregnancy. Doctors said she was born without vital signs. One week on, Luz is said to be improving, although health officials said that like any baby born three months prematurely, she has a 10 per cent chance of survival…

Rafael Sabatinelli, secretary of health, called the events a “disgrace” and has opened an investigation. Five medical professionals have been suspended. The health ministry later added that the couple were receiving psychological and financial assistance.

José Luis Meiriño, director of the hospital, said: “We work under strict protocols, but there’s no explanation for this.”

Needless to say there will be one of the most justifiable lawsuits in the history of medical malpractice.