The Rise of super bacteria
Back in the old days catching cold could be a life-threating disease in case of bacterial infection, and doctors can only continue supportive therapy hoping the patient may overcome the bacteria
Until in 1928 Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin, which was considered one of the most important medical breakthroughs of the century if not of all time
Since then drugs was developed and the fight against bacterial infection started and was no longer considered a great threat, as each spectrum and strain of bacteria had its specific Antibiotics, and doctors started focusing on fighting viruses considering that case was closed
But with time –like any living organism – bacteria started to fight back, and we started to notice that some strains were developing resistance to the antibiotics and the next generation started to be more aggressive
So scientists started fighting back and develop stronger antibiotics for each generation. And when this became a periodic and repeated process, many scientists pointed out that with time bacteria will out-smart us and win the race and we will run out options of non-toxic antibiotics
But the pharmaceutical companies kind of ignored these voices and kept on the race, as each new generation of bacteria means new, stronger, and more expensive antibiotics. Aside from that, even many scientists couldn’t agree with the Idea and though that there is a limit to the bacteria’s evolution
With time Bacteria was evolving faster than anticipated, till all the medical researches started warning about the super bacteria (superbug), even some started calling it the post-Antibiotics Era
But it seemed really far in the future, but there is a case recorded recently in the USA in Reno, Nevada (Sep 2016) that died from incurable infection and testing showed the superbug that had spread throughout her system could fend off 26 different antibiotics
There are many other cases recorded before that but cause of death wasn’t determined whether if the organism is resistant or the treatments started late or even other causes, or it has been happening I developing countries so the data were questioned.
But concerns has been raised loudly between researches and scientists at 2015 when Prof Timothy Walsh from University of Cardiff and Prof Mark Wilcox from Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, announced that the Post-Antibiotics is inevitable and coming soon whether that year in the upcoming few years
Depending in their statements on the Studies on bacteria’s mutation gene MCR-1, which prevent antibiotic (colistin) from killing the bacteria
The studies showed that the “super bugs” will keep developing and the antibiotics will be useless at certain moment
Here are top 6 super bacteria that we need to worry about, and also you might hace heard about their outbreak recently:
- MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus)
- Kelbisella Pneumonae
- Clostridium difficile
- Extensively drug resistant tuberculosis
- Drug Resistant Gonorrhea
- Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli
Though scientists are racing to develop new drugs and try to outrace the bacterial development either through antibiotics or new track of drugs (Nano-medicine), there is a new strict recommendation and guidelines by the WHO to help stopping or even pushing the time for post-antibiotic era
- Personal Hygiene, whether hand hygiene or preparing food properly
- Using meat not raised by anti-biotic treatment
- Stop using antibiotics as over the counter drugs, and not used with each case of common cold or when you get sick, and consult a doctor first
- In hospitals antibiotics are used only when needed and after investigations, not as a prophylactic measure in all the cases
If you still suspicious about the severity of the problem, here is what happened last year.
In Oct 2016 for the first time ever, the United Nations General Assembly convened a high-level meeting on the topic of antibiotic resistance. At the meeting in Geneva, members committed to develop action plans to reduce antibiotic use
One of the main reasons to hold this meeting, that Clostnin which used to be the last resort Antibiotic for resistant bacteria, had been useless against many cases of the newly developed super bugs (mentioned previously)
To sum up here are some main points that are now considered facts in the light of these developments;
1. A scratch could be deadly
As was the case 80 years ago before discovering antibiotics, this scenario could become common again. As the available drugs fail, any breach of the skin could once again result in a deadly, untreatable infection. Something as simple as gardening or getting a tattoo could be fatal.
2. Minor illnesses are not minor anymore
Infectious disease as common cold in case it gets to the bacterial infection stage it could be unstoppable
3. Surgery would became nearly impossible
Even now, infections occur after 1 to 3 percent of surgeries. Most of these are still treatable with antibiotics, but about 3 percent still lead to death. Even surgeries many consider “routine” now could easily become complicated without antibiotics, such as Caesarean sections or knee replacements.
Something like a bone marrow or organ transplant, where the host’s immune system must be compromised to accept the new tissue, would no longer be possible at all; the risk of an untreatable infection would be too high.
4. Antibiotics would be available to those with means
It may sound far-fetched, but we’ve seen in recent months how easily critical medicines(EpiPens, insulin, treatments for HIV-associated infections, even acne creams) can quickly become financially out of reach. Because antibiotics are “community drugs” use in anyone can affect how well they work in the whole population, as we find ourselves with fewer and fewer options available for treatment, the few remaining drugs may become strictly rationed and expensive.
5. It’s already happening
In many developing countries, deaths from antibiotic-resistant infections are already far too common.
In 2015, approximately 1.8 million people died of tuberculosis. In part because drugs weren’t available, and in part because their drugs did not work.