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STATEMENT OF U.S. PIRG on detection of colistin-resistant bacteria in the U.S.

For Immediate Release

The detection of colistin resistance in the United States is a sign that we may be near a post-antibiotic era, and losing our ability to treat common bacterial infections, as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have repeatedly warned. The bacteria in question carries a specific gene -- mcr-1 -- that can resist colistin, a drug often reserved for use after all other options have failed to treat an infection.

Despite the incredible urgency to stop the practices that worsen the rise and spread of resistance, Congress, federal agencies, and the livestock industries have repeatedly failed to take needed action. This inaction must stop. We need targeted reductions in antibiotic use; a system to track how, where, and why antibiotics are being used; and a ban on the use of antibiotics in animals that do not have diagnosed illness.

“It makes no sense at all to continue the practices that worsen the rise and spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria,” said Bill Wenzel, Antibiotics Program Director U.S. PIRG. “The discovery of this resistant bacteria in the U.S. should be a loud wake up call to the Congress and the FDA to ban the routine use of antibiotics on animals that aren’t sick.”

For additional information, contact Bill Wenzel, Antibiotics Program Director, U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) at bwenzel@pirg.org or 608-444-0292.

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