In 1812, Napoleon Bonaparte’s army was reduced at the gates of moscow from 665,000 to 93,000 by typhus – a louse-borne bacterial infection; survivors struggled home with the bacterium to infect Western Europeans – and kill around 2 millionIf you look back through history, most people died this way. Most people didn’t die of different forms of cancer, heart disease or lifestyle diseases that afflict us today because they didn’t live long enough to even develop them. Instead, they died of injuries — being gored by an ox,shot on a battlefield, crushed in one of the new factories of the Industrial Revolution — and most of the time from infection, infections caused by these injuries.All of that changed when antibiotics were discovered. In 1928, Sir Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin, though he did not realise the full significance of his discovery for at least another decade. He eventually received the Nobel Prize for his discovery in 1945.
Because of his discovery, Suddenly, infections that had been a death sentence became something you could recover from in days. Now, antibiotics have been used rather frivolously in some instances, for treating someone with just a cold or the flu, which they might not have responded to an antibiotic, Bronchitis & Cold are common examples for this. they are both Viral diseases. and they’ve also been used in large quantities sub-therapeutically, which means in small concentrations, to make chicken and hogs grow faster. Just to save a few pennies on the price of meat, we’ve spent a lot of antibiotics on animals, not for treatment, not for sick animals, but primarily for growth promotion.Animals in the US consume more than twice as many medically important antibiotics as humans.
Cheetahs have evolved to run faster, because if they didn’t run faster, they wouldn’t get any lunch. Gazelles have evolved to run faster because if they don’t run faster, they would be lunch. Now, this is the game we’re playing against the bacteria, except we’re not the cheetahs, we’re the gazelles, and the bacteria would, just in the course of this little talk, would have had kids and grandkids and even figure out how to be resistant just by selection and trial and error, trying it over and over again. Whereas how do we stay ahead of the bacteria? We have drug discovery processes, screening molecules, we have clinical trials, and then, when we think we have a drug, then we have the FDA regulatory process. And once we go through all of that, then we try to stay one step ahead of the bacteria.Now, what did that lead us to? Basically, the massive use of antibiotics around the world has imposed such large selection pressure on bacteria that resistance is now a problem, because we’ve now selected for just the resistant bacteria.
Bacteria is basically, given the chance to either adapt and move on, or die. If it were you, what would you chose?Antibiotic resistance occurs when the antibiotic drug loses its effectiveness to control or kill a bacteria due to it having developed immunity to the drug. In other words, these diseases are able to continue to multiply despite the presence of antibiotics. Briefly, it works like this. Bacteria compete against each other for resources, for food, by manufacturing lethal compounds that they direct against each other. Other bacteria, to protect themselves,evolve defenses against that chemical attack.
When we first made antibiotics, we took those compounds into the lab and made our own versions of them, and bacteria responded to our attack the way they always had.Bacteria develop resistance so quickly that pharmaceutical companies have decided making antibiotics is not in their best interest, so there are infections moving across the world for which, out of the more than 100 antibiotics available on the market, two drugs might work with side effects, or one drug, or none.in the United States and Europe, 50,000 people a year die of infections which no drugs can help. A project chartered by the British government known as the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance estimates that the worldwide toll right now is 700,000 deaths a year.Antibiotics support almost all of modern life. If we lost antibiotics, here’s what else we’d lose: First, any protection for people with weakened immune systems — cancer patients, AIDS patients, transplant recipients, premature babies.Next, any treatment that installs foreign objects in the body: stents for stroke, pumps for diabetes, dialysis, joint replacements. A recent study estimates that without antibiotics, one out of ever six would die.
Next, we’d probably lose surgery. Many operations are preceded by prophylactic doses of antibiotics. Without that protection, we’d lose the ability to perform surgeries. So no heart operations, no prostate biopsies, no Cesarean sections. We’d have to learn to fear infections that now seem minor.
More than anything else, we’d lose the confident way we live our everyday lives. That British project I mentioned which estimates that the worldwide toll right now is 700,000 deaths a year also predicts that if we can’t get this under control by 2050, not long, the worldwide toll will be 10 million deaths a year. This is asymmetric warfare, but we can change the outcome. We could build systems that harvest data and tell us automatically and specifically how antibiotics are being used. We could build gatekeeping into the drug order systems so that every prescription gets a checked at least 2 times.
We could require agriculture to give up antibiotic use.We could build surveillance systems that tell us where resistance is emerging next.Doctors could forgo giving an antibiotic if they’re not sure it’s the right one.We could stop insisting on a prescription for our kid’s ear infection before we’re even sure what caused it.
We could ask restaurants and supermarkets, where their meat comes from.We could avoid buying meat or fruit raised with routine antibiotic use, and by doing those things, we could slow down the arrival of the