It has recently been reported in the UK paper, The Guardian, that in the near future we will have to live in a world without antibiotics, due to the rapidity with which bacteria develop resistance to them.
The Guardian article reports on a findings by Professor Tim Walsh and his colleagues, last September. Walsh reportedly discovered a gene, named “NDM 1”, which readily passes between a category of bacteria known as enterobacteriaceae. This category includes E. Coli, Klebsiella Pneumoniae and other such bacterial charmers! They will join MRSA as super resistant bugs.
The NDM 1 gene makes these bacteria resistant to most of today’s most powerful antibiotics. On August 11th, 2010, the respected journal, Lancet Infectious Diseases asked, “is this the end of antibiotics”. Lancet reported that not only is NDM 1 widespread in India, but it has arrived in the UK due to global travel and “medical tourism” (transplant, pregnancy care & cosmetic surgery.
Dr Livermore who is director of the antibiotic resistance monitoring and reference laboratory of the Health Protection Agency said, “a lot of modern medicine would become impossible if we lost our ability to treat infections“. He was referring to transplant surgery where the patient is required to have their immune system suppressed so as not to reject the new organ. No effective antibiotics would leave them vulnerable to opportunistic infections.
The rest of the article is quite pessimistic, painting a Darwinian battle of evolution between bacteria and humans, that we can’t possibly win (as we cannot evolve as fast).
The Guardian asks the question:
After antibiotics: what happens when the drugs don’t work?
The sad and bleak answers given by the Guardian are:
• Transplant surgery becomes virtually impossible. Organ recipients have to take immune-suppressing drugs for life to stop rejection of a new heart or kidney. Their immune systems cannot fight off life-threatening infections without antibiotics.
• Removing a burst appendix becomes a dangerous operation once again. Patients are routinely given antibiotics after surgery to prevent the wound becoming infected by bacteria. If bacteria get into the bloodstream, they can cause life-threatening septicaemia.
• Pneumonia becomes once more “the old man’s friend”. Antibiotics have stopped it being the mass-killer it once was, particularly among the old and frail, who would lapse into unconsciousness and often slip away in their sleep. Other diseases of old age, such as cancer, have taken over.
• Gonorrhea becomes hard to treat. Resistant strains are already on the rise. Without treatment, the sexually transmitted disease causes pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility and ectopic pregnancies.
• Tuberculosis becomes incurable – first we had TB, then multi-drug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) and now there is XDR-TB (extremely drug resistant TB). TB requires very long courses (six months or more) of antibiotics. The very human tendency to stop taking or forget to take the drugs has contributed to the spread of resistance.
Of course, nobody asks the question: what could we use in the place of antibiotics? The article and the sources it quotes don’t even give a second thought that there might conceivably be another way.
It is little wonder really when the FDA is so enthusiastically trying to stamp out anything non pharmaceutical such as MMS and colloidal silver which could help. Doctors who promote such alternatives (regardless of scientific evidence) risk losing their licence for suggesting it. Companies promoting them risk being shut down if they make too many claims.
When penicillin was discovered, the medical establishment and pharmaceutical companies took a huge step forward. These days, penicillin is of very limited use. All modern “wonder drugs” will eventually end up as I “wonder” what happened to them. This is the law of evolution which we cannot keep up. I am prevented by the FDA from telling you all that the advanced colloidal silver can do. Suffice to say that if the alarmist warnings above are correct, then the medical establishment would be extremely negligent for not considering it (and other similar options like MMS). As for bacteria mutating and evolving; for all Trekkies out there I would like to quote from Star Trek; “resistance is futile“.