Rise of the super bugs

After attending the recent Environmental Summit in Annapolis I was pleased to read your story "Environmental activists gear up for fights in Annapolis" (Jan. 24).

Yet I was disappointed it did not mention a key environmental goal of the summit: The Keep Antibiotics Working Act.

At the summit Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen talked about three great challenges officials face in getting people to engage with public health issues: Calling out problems, sharing narratives of success and pointing out the cost of doing nothing.

If there is a public health issue facing millions of Americans today that needs calling out, it is certainly the overuse of antibiotics and the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Overusing antibiotics in humans and animals breeds antibiotic resistance. Yet nearly 70 percent of human antibiotics are given to farm animals, often when they are not even sick. This overuse spreads antibiotic-resistant bacteria, known as super bugs, which find their way to humans and endanger lives.

Passing the Keep Antibiotics Working Act will be our narrative of success. The Maryland legislature will hear the Keep Antibiotics Effective Act (HB 602 and SB 422) in the coming weeks, and we should all call on our legislators to support it.

The cost of doing nothing regarding super bugs and antibiotic overuse has consequences. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that of the 2 million Americans who experience antibiotic-resistant infections annually, 23,000 die as a consequence.

Lawmakers should pass the Keep Antibiotics Working Act.

Maren Stunes, Towson

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