Stay with me on this one, it has more layers than an onion! (I had to think twice about blogging this info as it is disturbing).
Amy Pruden is an associate professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Virginia Tech University. In a paper she authored this year in Environmental Science and Technology, she details how little of antibiotics consumed by humans and animals is ultimately metabolized. The bottom line is that over 90% are not metabolized meaning that these drugs leave the body almost intact.
The next layer, the same is true when antibiotics are used in agribusiness in cattle, poultry, fish hatcheries, etc. The same 90% passes straight on through.
Third layer, wastewater and watershed end up contaminated with the antibiotics and, for the most part, water treatment and sewerage treatment facilities are not capable of clearing these products from the water they receive and ultimately release.
Fourth layer, "The presence of antibiotics, even at sub-inhibitory concentrations, can stimulate bacterial metabolism and thus contribute to the selection and maintenance of antibiotic resistance genes," Pruden explains. "Once they are present in rivers, antibiotic resistance genes are capable of being transferred among bacteria, including pathogens, through horizontal gene transfer".
Pruden says "new drug discovery can no longer keep pace with emerging antibiotic-resistant infections."
I don't mean to be overly negative, but the question must be asked; are we the creators our own worst fears?