Herman Trend Alert: Superbugs and our Responses


No one would dispute that we have had a frightening increase in the proliferation of superbugs, antibiotic-resistant bacteria, in the United States and elsewhere. In fact, more than 18,000 deaths and more than 365,000 hospitalizations a year in the US result from exposure to MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus), MDRSA (Multidrug-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus), and other superbugs.

Recently, yet another study has reinforced the idea that feeding confined animals antibiotics ahead of time to prevent infection breeds varieties of bacteria that cause disease in humans---disease that may not readily be treated by antibiotics. Not only do we have a problem with the animals, but we also now have a problem with the workers as well.  Workers in both regular and antibiotic-free operations tested positive for Staphylococcus aureus, the precursor to MRSA (41 and 40 percent respectively), while 7 percent tested positive for MRSA itself and a whopping 37 and 19 percent tested positive for MDRSA.  Due to the fatal nature of the bacteria, these percentages are truly frightening.

A recent report from the US Food and Drug Administration cited almost half of all chicken that is sold is contaminated with antibiotic-resistant campylobacter. In the US, antibiotics are regularly fed to livestock; in Europe and elsewhere, antibiotic use with livestock is prohibited. 

However, there is hope! Companies like Iowa-based Vi-COR have a cost-effective solution. The global company pioneered the sale of concentrated yeast culture for supplement of livestock feeds.  Operating in 60 countries worldwide (including Brazil), Vi-COR's yeast-based product boosts the immune system naturally by binding to E. coli and salmonella and renders them ineffective; classified as a "pre-biotic", the product feeds the good bacteria. Using "competitive exclusion", it bolsters the "good
bugs" to eliminate the effectiveness of the bad ones. Vi-COR's products improve health and digestion in many different species including dairy, swine, beef, poultry, horses, and companion animals.

Expect to see a lot more media attention drawn to this critical issue and ultimately, more legislative attention to help limit the use of antibiotics in growing livestock around the world for which companies like Vi-COR are well positioned. This issue may also accelerate the trend towards eating an exclusively plant-based diet. 

Herman Trend Alerts are written by Joyce Gioia, a strategic business futurist, Certified Management Consultant, author, and professional speaker. Archived editions are posted at http://www.hermangroup.com/archive.html 


Joyce Gioia is a Strategic Business Futurist concentrating on workforce and workplace trends. Joyce is President and CEO of The Herman Group, a firm serving a wide range corporate, trade association and governmental clients on an international basis.

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