Antibiotic resistance is real – and scary, especially when one of your kids is sick and needs an antibiotic to help them kick the crud…
One weekend in the fall of 2015, our baby daughter developed a low fever and an elevated level of fussiness. At first I thought she was sick with something viral (‘twas the season for that), and then felt silly on Sunday morning when I noticed two little pearly white culprits. But on Monday, her fever spiked again and her mood had undoubtedly not improved. So, to the pediatrician we went. And after a good once over, it was determined that the cause of her discomfort could not entirely be attributed to her teething because in addition to that – she was fighting an ear infection.
Our pediatrician discussed how ear infections can be either viral or bacterial, and that ear infections of the viral variety simply have to run their course. But based on her assessment, Tagg was battling a bacterial infection in her right ear and would benefit from the help of an antibiotic. She went on to explain the course of action, including which antibiotic would work best to treat Tagg’s specific situation and the importance of following all label instructions.
Resisting Antibiotic Resistance
Before we parted ways, we discussed the reality of antibiotic resistance. The fact of the matter is that everyone (and by everyone, I do mean everyone) can do something to help prevent this phenomenon. So if you are not thinking about ways you can personally reduce antibiotic use and proactively prevent it from getting out of hand – you should be. As responsible parents, and raisers of beef, it is something that Tom and I think about each and every day.
Here are just a few of the ways we are fighting back and resisting antibiotic resistance in our home and on the ranch:
In Our Home We…
- Eat well and move. Eating well and staying active are important to maintaining a strong immune system. That is why we eat a diet consisting of protein, fruit, veg, carbs, healthy fats – you know all of the food groups. Now, I’m not going to lie to you and say that our family sticks to a strict diet – we don’t. On account of my firm “everything in moderation… except coffee” belief, we follow an intuitive eating approach. In addition to listening to our bodies and practicing intuitive eating, we move. Since we are not in close proximity to a gym, we don’t “exercise” per se. But we do things like ride horses, jump on the trampoline (or play in the dirt) with the kids, lift fifty-pound feed sacks, walk miles checking fence, and on occasion we will do a DVD workout in the living room.
- Practice good personal hygiene. Because the kids play in the dirt pretty regularly and our day job is caring for animals that poop, frequent hand washing and showering are not optional – they are required.
- Follow the rules of food safety. If you have ever read any of my recipe posts, you know that I am a food safety enthusiast. My short list is not just something I post for the fun of it. I practice what I preach because the truth is – the short list is antibiotic-reducing, life-saving stuff.
- Listen to our physicians. In the event that our preventative measures fail us and one of us does fall ill with something that we just can’t shake, we go to the doctor. And should the doctor conclude that antibiotic treatment is necessary, we follow their orders. For example, to treat Tagg’s ear infection her doctor prescribed an antibiotic to be taken twice daily for ten days at the rate of 3ml per dose, discarding any medicine leftover after the final dose. And these orders will be followed in their entirety – they are that important.
On the Ranch We…
- Exercise our cattle and help them meet nutritional needs. Turns out a sedentary lifestyle coupled with inadequate nutrition, is not healthy for cattle either. That is why, in addition to supplementing our herd’s grass diet with mineral (always) and hay or cake, a protein supplement, we use best stockmanship practices to keep the cattle healthy by getting them moving.
- Consult our veterinarian. Because prevention is the best medicine, all of our cattle are set up on a vaccination program formulated with the help of our veterinarian. And if illness does rear its ugly head, we work with our veterinarian to choose the right medicine to treat the specific illness. When administering medications and/or vaccinations we follow the doctor’s orders, adhering to all label instructions. Because once again – it is that important.
- Keep records. Tom has his little red book and an ink pen on him at all times, and it is a rare occasion when I do not have my phone. We keep detailed records and while I like to log information in the Notes of my iPhone, he prefers to kick it old school with pen and paper. The method to our record keeping madness is twofold: it is necessary to keeping in line with medication withdrawal laws, and it helps us select for a healthier herd (see photo).
- Select for health. When we decide which cows will be allowed to produce replacement calves, we look back on our records to help in the decision making process. This means that when a cow requires treatment for any illness, any calves born to her are automatically ineligible to enter the reproductive herd. The calves are given unique tags at birth and go on to produce beef rather than staying on the ranch. By selecting this way we are weeding out genetically weak immune systems, resulting in healthier cattle.
Antibiotic resistance is no joke. And preventing antibiotic resistance – it is that important. In order to keep our families safe and our antibiotics effective, we ALL need to work as a team to combat this dangerous phenomenon. So, how are you resisting antibiotic resistance?