We've heard a lot recently about the scourge of antibiotic resistance, when the overuse of antibiotics by doctors and factory farms causes bacteria to become resistant to drugs. Unfortunately, we’re heading down the same road with another class of medicine: antifungals. If changes aren’t implemented now, more people will start dying from fungal infections.
For decades, the agricultural sector has been using compounds called triazoles to protect plants from a broad spectrum of fungal diseases. Their use increased as famers came to realize how effective they were; now triazoles account for one quarter of all fungicides worldwide. The problem? Triazoles are the exact same compounds used in human antifungal medicines.
What researchers have found is that fungi in the soil are exposed to triazoles through the agricultural use of the compounds in fungicide, making the spores resistant. Then when triazoles are used in patients with a fungal infection, the drugs don’t work. Once again, patients with compromised immune systems are dying from fungal infections.
One of the problems with antibiotic resistance is that it is very difficult to create new antibiotics: there are only twelve classes of those drugs, and no new class has entered the market since the 1980s. There are only three classes of antifungal drugs, including triazoles. If one of three classes of antifungals no longer works for patients, it will become very difficult to fight fungal infections, and immuno-compromised individuals are most at risk—approximately 9 million people in the US alone.
To really protect immuno-compromised patients in the US, we need to stop using triazoles on crops. Otherwise, certain fungal infections will become a death sentence for these vulnerable patients.
Write to Congress and the EPA, telling them to ban the use of triazoles on crops.
Please save antifungal medicine
Dear [Decision Maker],
Sincerely,[Your Name] [Your Address] [City, State ZIP][Your Email]