Dr. Brad Spellberg, infectious disease doctor, addresses antibiotic resistance – 3 minutes

Dr. Brad Spellberg, infectious disease doctor, addresses antibiotic resistance – 3 minutes


Well, my background is a board-certified
infectious diseases specialist. Fifteen years of clinical practice. I do see patients
as an infectious disease specialist. I also am the chief medical officer here
at the hospital. Although the opinions I’m expressing are
my own, not reflective of the hospital. A ntibiotic resistance is I think one of
the most concerning developments in all of medicine for public health. In
order to understand the seriousness of the threat that antibiotic
resistance causes, you have to understand how important antibiotics are.
Antibiotics have caused massive reductions in death across a variety of
types of diseases and have enabled a number of different life-saving medical
practices. We would not have cancer chemotherapy, complex surgical management,
intensive care units, organ transplants, care for premature babies if
we didn’t have effective antibiotics. As you lose the antibiotics due to
resistance, it threatens all of those medical advances. Our only opportunity to
reduce resistance is to eliminate unnecessary antibiotic use, and since
most antibiotic use is unnecessary, if we can eliminate it, we will greatly slow
the spread of resistance and prolong the useful lives of these life-saving
antibiotics. I think people are surprised when they learn that about 70% of the
antibiotics sold in the United States are put into animals, not people. Two and
a half times the amount that go into humans to treat disease goes into
animals. And the vast majority of that is not to treat sick animals. Nobody’s
complaining about treating infected sick animals. The vast majority is used to
growth promote livestock. And as people have complained about growth promotion,
the people using the antibiotics have changed the name to “prevention.” We
don’t prevent infections in people with antibiotics. Why would it be acceptable
to prevent them in healthy animals? That is a gross misuse of antibiotics. People
ask the question: How much of the resistant infections in people can be
attributed to antibiotic use in animals? CDC has estimated 20% of human resistant
infections can be linked to animal agricultural use of antibiotics.
I suspect the number is probably higher. But the real answer
is it doesn’t matter. It’s not zero. It’s unequivocally not zero. We know
antibiotic use in animals contributes to resistant infections in
people. The solution to antibiotic use in agriculture is awareness, because as the
public starts to learn, “Hey, when we use antibiotics in livestock. it can hurt
people.” They will increasingly demand antibiotic-free meat products. And that
will help businesses understand, “Our customers are asking for a move into
this market segment, the antibiotic-free meat segment. That’s what they’re asking
for. We should give them that. That’s in our best business interest. The alignment
of market forces with public good is something you don’t see very often. But
we have it here. So awareness will help us drive that alignment.

One Reply to “Dr. Brad Spellberg, infectious disease doctor, addresses antibiotic resistance – 3 minutes”

  1. "when a person precociously quits their antibiotic course, isn't that the antibiotic resistance one's supposed to be concerned about?" (can't you suffer organ failure when you start up on a course again after having abandoned it?)

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