Yet the dog poo was a whole major mission – so why does it get more attention than our own?
Fact is, however you finagle it, it is impossible – repeat, IMPOSSIBLE – to go to the loo without getting stuff on your hands. (Tweet this)
Worse, every flush creates a micro-spray of water mixed with yuck – too fine to see, but able to spread twenty feet or more. Spray and wee, spray and poo, nothing nice for anyone.
It gets worse
Plus of course, it’s not just your poo you have to worry about.
That posh-looking person in the three-piece suit just came back from Asia. Luckily no norovirus on the plane, but there were typhoid cases in the departure city.
Typhoid in the poo mist, highly contagious. A serious bacterial infection.
And if you don’t wash your hands, you could just be unlucky. Screaming high temperature, diarrhoea like you can’t believe, and yes, your bowel can actually split open.
Two weeks on antibiotics minimum. You could die if it’s bad – or find you’re no longer playing with a full deck. Worse than death if that’s possible. And all from not washing hands.
Far fetched? Panic stirring?
Have you checked how the medical people are getting worried about antibiotic resistance? Antimicrobial resistance (the other name for it) is No 1 on the radar for everybody from the government. on down. It’s when antibiotics DON’T WORK ANY MORE.
That means back to the Dark Ages – even the Prime Minister says so. You get an infection, you’re on your own because the medicines can no longer control it.
Which means it’s not norovirus – the Don’t-Wash-Hands Disease, or campylobacter (the raw chicken chucker-upper), or any of the usual suspects we have to worry about.
The real killers
It’s the long-haul killers from way back – the heavyweight diseases that antibiotics were designed to eliminate: smallpox, measles, Spanish flu, bubonic plague, AIDS, typhus.
Catch any of those without medicine that works – and you’re a goner.
But all preventable – or very much a reduced risk – if you always wash your hands.
We shouldn’t have to remind ourselves, but we do – our lives are so rush-rush, do-it-now, that hand hygiene is always forgotten.
So yes, a life and death issue – and it only takes one lapse to trigger it.
OK, let’s pretend it’s happened. Antibiotics don’t work anymore and we’re back in David Cameron’s “Dark Ages.”
Oh, except it’s not a pretence. In more and more places, it’s the reality – all you have do is look at the deadly ebola outbreak currently running riot in Liberia.
Out there, it truly is the Dark Ages, 90% of patients who contract ebola do not survive. They DIE.
And how do they catch it? Follow-up investigations into just about every case point to lapses in washing hands, wearing protective clothing, or handling materials contaminated by the patient.
The problem is, ebola is so virulent it’s particularly lethal at exploiting any weakness in hygiene defences. The smallest lapse or chink in our armour and it’s through.
But properly protected, doctors, nurses and all those amazing professionals in Médecins Sans Frontières are reasonably safe from this dread disease.
See, it’s not antibiotics that’s protecting them. It’s good old-fashioned common sense and realistic commitment to hygiene. Which applies as much now as it ever did in the Dark Ages.
Which is precisely what’s wrong with our attitude back here in our nice, comfortable, ebola-free UK.
Apart from the dedicated few who keep banging on about hand hygiene, the rest of us are bumbling around not even bothering, or so lax about using antibacterial hand gel it’s worse than useless.
Yes, we’re too damn lax for our own good – and the antibiotics we’ve been relying on for so long to get us out of trouble can’t crack it anymore.
Well there’s a surprise. Because for all the care most us take, we might just as well be gallivanting through Liberia, shaking everybody by the hand, kissing them and sharing tea with them.
And then we have the gall to turn round and blame the NHS and the whole medical profession for not protecting us!
Listen folks, if we ever deserve to survive, we have to up our game.
And there’s one way staring us in the face that has been around since the same Nineteenth Century Dark Ages that we’re so terrified about.
What? There’s a defence system that can destroy ALL germs – and WE’RE NOT USING IT! Just how do we ever think we’ll live to see tomorrow?
Come on, now. Get your mind-set beyond just washing and think sterilisation, a process that basically kills ALL microorganisms.
And it’s not rocket science, we already know how to do it. By any one of these methods: heat, ethylene oxide gas, hydrogen peroxide gas, plasma, ozone or radiation.
Dark Ages? We’ve got more defences than Rambo!
Take just one, hydrogen peroxide. Because it’s quick, inexpensive – and with the latest Twenty-First Century spin on how you use it – highly effective.
Hydrogen peroxide works by oxidising action. It destroys bacteria and viruses by smashing their cell systems to nothing. Dead, gone, finished – every pathogen it’s ever been tested on.
And with modern delivery systems, the stuff hyper-warps to 99.9999% effectiveness – or in technical terms, a Sterilisation Assurance Level of Log 6. No just on surfaces either, total room purification.
First it gets ionised and an auto-robot sprays an ultra-fine mist of it into the air.
Because it’s electrostatically charged, it physically latches on to microbes in suspension or on hard surfaces and rips them to shreds by shoving oxygen atoms at them.
Next, because it has colloidal silver added to it, this capability is boosted several times over.
That allows greater economy with lower concentrations and an even finer mist to disperse, electrostatically attracted up through the air and deep into cracks and crevices.
An airborne defence system more effective than antibiotics.
Yes, more effective. Because if you think about it, for antibiotics to work, you have to get sick first. And who wants to take that chance?
And you can use this stuff everywhere – hospitals, hotels, restaurants, aircraft, coaches, food delivery trucks, supermarkets, schools, kitchens, toilets, and of course, at home.
Amazing right? But don’t get lax now. You still need to wash your hands. It’s a big wide world out there, with billions and billions of germs. Come back inside and you’re covered with them again.
You’ve got to rewrite the Good Book, the bit where it says “Physician heal thyself” (Luke 4:23).
Because surprise, surprise – you’re the physician now. So “heal thyself” is meant for you.
Because if you’re watching the news, everyone’s getting jumpy about antibiotics failure –more exactly antimicrobial resistance.
Which means if you run to the Doc for all kinds of things – from a hip replacement to a simple cut – she can’t help you because the medicines she needs are outgunned by superbugs.
This is the “Dark Ages” that the heavies are on about. And it could take twenty years before new superantibiotics can be developed to zap them, according to Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies.
So what do we do in the meantime? Hobble around, gasping our last?
Or shape up and do something about it.
Which is where becoming a pre-doctor comes in.
Arranging your life so you don’t need a doctor in the first place. Taking action before you ring the consulting rooms.
First up, obviously is personal hygiene – living clean, keeping clean, and always washing your hands.
But it’s not enough. What about the space around you, the room you live in? That’s full of microorganisms too. Billions and billions of them.
If you could see them, they be like smog. Smothering everything, making you feel like you should wear a mask.
You can do better. Sterilise the room around you – not the Great Outdoors unfortunately, that’s too big. But everywhere else – at home, at work, at leisure.
Mist up the place with a high-powered oxidiser that destroys all bacteria and viruses that it touches – in the air, on surfaces, in every nook and cranny.
Because if the germs are dead, you can’t get sick. And if you’re not sick, you don’t need as doctor.
Super-nasty, super-superbug, Disease X. The one that hit the news last week. Get that thing running around your office and you’re in big trouble.
Invincible. Unstoppable. The next we’re-all-going-to-die pandemic.
Deadly dangerous, like all the other we’re-all-going-to-die pandemics we already face, but don’t want to know about.
The devil we know
All just as fatal as Disease X. And already here – long before Disease X has even got out of bed.
Because excuse us, we forgot to mention – Disease X doesn’t exist yet.
Scientists are just pondering that it could. The nightmare of a nasty lethal pathogen that could even be man-made – and totally resistant to any medicine we could throw at it. Immune to vaccines and antibiotics. The end of the world.
Exactly like the growing list of viruses and bacteria we already have no defence against.
CRE for instance – carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae – a bacterium resistant to ALL antibiotics. The poor lady who caught it in India last year went through 26 antibiotics, including all aminoglycosides and polymyxins – and still she died.
It could happen to us next week. And not from any rare infection, or some germ-warfare zombie-killer that hasn’t been invented yet. Ordinary flu will do. Or blood poisoning from a simple paper cut.
Or any one of the other common or garden illnesses that all of us come down with, at least once or twice a year.
The end of modern medicine
Antimicrobial resistance is why. As doctors are continually warning us, overuse of antibiotics – more than one third of prescriptions for them are totally unnecessary – has accelerated the development of effective immunity by the very bacteria they’re trying to treat.
It’s a warning Dr Dame Sally Davies, England’s Chief Medical Officer has made repeatedly, spelling the end of modern medicine.
“Without the drugs used to fight infections, common medical interventions such as caesarean sections, cancer treatments and hip replacements would become incredibly risky and transplant medicine would be a thing of the past,” she says.
Which means there’s no difference between ordinary gastroenteritis and Disease X. As antimicrobial resistance accelerates, within as little as a few months, they could both be just as deadly. Both panresistant – able to withstand ANY medication – meaning certain death for anyone unlucky enough to catch them.
Which is where your illness prevention plan comes in.
No, not one of those keep-fit packages, or dietary wellness jobs. We mean a real, deliberate anti-illness measure that eliminates germs in the workplace altogether. If there are no germs to catch, nobody can get ill.
Which means not just saving money on sick leave absence, or underpowered efforts from staff unwell at work. You’re almost certainly saving one of your team’s lives.
And it’s not that difficult either.
You already pay to have the place cleaned regularly. Probably a minor expense to vacuum the place daily, wipe down the desks and empty the rubbish.
For a few bob more, you can sterilise the place as well. Treat everything from top to bottom, every night when staff have gone home.
Next morning, when they’re back again, it’s germ-zero. No viruses or bacteria anywhere – not even Disease X, if it pops up within the next week or so.
Kinda vital when folks make a thing of washing their hands and maybe wearing facemasks – spooked by Disease X.
If their hands are clean and the office is at germ-zero, there’s no danger from touching anything that might transfer infection. Fomites, they’re called – anything from touchscreens to keyboards, light switches, door handles, to simply the pieces of paper that all work seems to involve.
Yes, a good thing that you have that plan.
Because Disease X might science-fiction at the moment.
But Diseases A and B are very real, if you think of Aussie flu and norovirus. And who wants to die from them?
Hypersteriliser units are supplied to businesses and institutions across the UK, notably the haematology and other critical units at Salford Royal Hospital, Greater Manchester; Doncaster & Bassetlaw Hospital; South Warwickshire Hospital; Coventry & Warwickshire Hospital; and Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead.
The Halo Hypersteriliser system achieves 6-log Sterility Assurance Level – 99.9999% of germs destroyed.It is the only EPA-registered dry mist fogging system – EPA No 84526-6. It is also EU Biocide Article 95 Compliant.
Reference links checked and working at time of posting. However, some URLs may be taken down or re-sited later. If your link goes nowhere or you get an Error 404 message, please accept our apologies.
Crazy, right? Round the twist. Who in their right mind would want to chop their leg off?
But that’s how crazy we are when we take antibiotics.
We don’t think so, of course. But without knowing it, we’re doing ourselves serious harm.
Because antibiotics are prescribed to do one thing – kill bacteria.
Killers as life-savers?
And surprise, surprise, though none of us ever realise it – our own bodies are more bacteria than human, our cells outnumbered by more than 10 to 1.
Seems impossible and about-face, but that’s actually a good thing.
Bacteria are one of the longest-lasting life forms on Earth. Amazing survivors too. Capable of withstanding fierce high temperatures. Triple-figure sub-zero freezing temperatures. Even living and breeding in acid.
Our bodies are colonised by hundreds of trillions of these remarkable creatures. They’re vitally necessary to handle our digestion, produce proteins and manage our immune systems – among thousands of other functions. They live with our human cells in harmony – and we could not exist without them.
So yeah, we take antibiotics to kill bacteria that are harming us. The WRONG bacteria in the WRONG place, running amok among the RIGHT bacteria that are who we are.
Oh dear – chop, chop, chop.
A bomb in the guts
Because in targeting harmful bacteria, those same antibiotics inevitably kill some of our good bacteria too. Their killer action is spread wide to be sure of effectiveness. So our own systems take a hit – though we may not know it at the time.
The bacteria inside us know it though, particularly in our gut. To the trillions and trillions that live in our insides, a dose of antibiotics is like exploding a hydrogen bomb. Millions get the chop.
Sure some of them regrow, reproducing themselves sometimes in as little as 20 minutes. But not all. Some are damaged and can’t do their job. Others – the rarer ones – might be lost altogether. Our gut population depleted, our bio-diversity gone.
We might feel the same when our illness passes – back to normal and our usual selves.
But we’re not.
Biggest of the known side effects of antibiotics is growth promotion. The body bulks up very rapidly, putting on weight overnight . Damaged or missing bacteria cause the metabolism to gorge on food more than normal. And to extract a higher proportion of nutrients, directly accelerating the body’s over-development.
Fatter and fatter
See what happens with kids aged two, put on antibiotics. By the time they get to five they’re already overweight, well on their way to increasingly chubby childhood.
It’s this quality that has revolutionised the food industry, enabling factory farms to pump out THREE times the world’s meat and plant crop output in little more than 20 years.
Such weight gain doesn’t happen to everybody.
But it’s already a fact of life – and a key reason why two-thirds of adults are already overweight or obese. Not just from medical treatments – frighteningly made worse by one third of all prescribed antibiotics being completely unnecessary – but from daily exposure through our FOOD.
You see, spectacular growth boosting in food production has exploded antibiotics use all over the world. Currently 240,000 tonnes annually and rocketing.
That means that through direct dosing with feedstuffs – and even more through indirect absorption of manure used to fertilise, enriching all plant life and those same feedstuffs – all of us receive a small daily intake of antibiotics with every meal we eat. Exactly the way to make us bulk up fast.
Fatter and sicker
Animals and plants quickly get eaten, so their life expectancy is not very high – a few years at most. But we go on for decades, getting steadily fatter, deeper into obesity. More prone to illnesses that obesity brings – diabetes, heart disease, cancer and many others. All long goodbyes.
Not the same as chopping off a leg – but equally unpleasant. And a lot more life-threatening.
Nor is it just getting fat that antibiotics threaten us with.
Damaged or missing bacteria deny us any immunity to serious illness we may have inherited from our parents. Our kids are denied them for the same reason, they’re no longer there to be passed on.
Worse, our bodies start reacting to conditions that aren’t there. Misreading normal signals as hostile, confusing everyday reality with phantom attacks against us.
Which is how, out of nowhere, we develop allergies. Hay fever, eczema or asthma. Or how about urticaria, anaphylactic shock or gluten reactions? People never had them 20 years ago –not in the snowballing number we have now.
And then of course – really chopping off our own leg – our undisciplined and wild overuse of antibiotics has triggered the development of superbugs.
Our cure-all miracle drugs are starting not to work any more because bacteria have become immune to them. Antimicrobial resistance.
Yes, well – we wanted to kill off bacteria, But nobody thought we were chopping off bits of ourselves.
So now we sit with life-savers that don’t work, medical surgery brought to a standstill, and all of us steadily getting fatter.
Not a survivable future
Though count on it, the bacteria that brought us down will still be around, long after we’re gone.
Oh yeah, and that antibiotic resistance superbug thing?
Wait till that runs riot across factory farms. Flash pandemics among livestock. No more food for most of us. Death by hunger is not a nice way to go – and we’re probably already too late to stop it.
Chopping off a leg, huh? Looks like we’ve already done it.
Time to reverse this antibiotics debacle now, to get off the train and find alternatives. Other solutions like bacteriophages – something, anything.
Either that, chop, chop – or we’re limping towards a future that doesn’t exist.
OK, most of us know that antibiotics kill bacteria.
Except it’s a shattering revelation to most of us that We are 90% bacteria. Only 10% of our bodies are human.
Yeah, life-saving antibiotics fight infection and make us well again.
But there’s always collateral damage. We never quite return to 100% ourselves again afterwards. Our personal bacteria are depleted or damaged.
All thanks to antibiotics.
A killer legacy
Miracle drugs they certainly have been, until now. But evidence is mounting that our unswerving faith in them may be misplaced. That they are in fact about the most deadly threat we face today.
Three major challenges they throw at us, all of them deadly:
Superbugs. Bacteria can and do find ways to resist antibiotics. They become immune, untreatable – life-threatening superbugs. The threat is so serious that the UN convened their first ever general assembly to address the issue only last week. Superbugs are expected to kill 10 million of us by 2050.
Obesity. We’re fat and getting fatter – two thirds of us are already overweight or obese. Again, thanks to antibiotics. A staggering 240,000 tonnes are fed to livestock every year to accelerate growth and weight gain. Their manure fertilises crops, so that our entire food chain is laced with the most phenomenal growth booster ever. Our food bulks us up, we become obese, triggering diabetes, heart disease and cancer – together killing 500 million of us by 2050.
Famine. Farmers won’t stop feeding animals their biggest ever money-maker. Which means antibiotics on farms will nearly double in the next 15 years. HALF A MILLION TONNES A YEAR gives bacteria plenty of practice to become superbugs. Which means widespread disease is inevitable – a collapse of the food supply to non-antibiotic levels. 6 billion of us can expect to starve to death.
More than two thirds of the world’s population gone. All thanks to antibiotics – the invincible superbugs they create, and the ballooning bodies they force on us that our systems cannot withstand.
Doom and gloom worldwide
An effective alternative
Except in a research lab at the University of Melbourne – where 25-year old PhD student Shu Lam from Batu Pahat in the state of Johor, Malaysia, is working on a game-changer. Star-shaped molecules of peptide polymers that destroy superbugs WITHOUT antibiotics.
The star-shaped polymers rip bacteria walls apart WITHOUT harming the body. Destroying them in much the same way as oxygen atoms do outside the body – annihilating harmful germs in living spaces.
Shu Lam’s work is still in its infancy, but already the results are impressive. Effective against six strains of drug-resistant bacteria in the lab, and on one superbug in live mice.
Her work parallels the largely forgotten efforts of others looking for alternatives to antibiotics – particularly the use of bacteriophages.
Using a germ to catch a germ, phages are tightly targeted viruses that attack bacteria by injecting DNA and fragmenting their cells.
The practice of deploying viruses to kill bacteria became widely used by the Soviet Union during the Cold War – a practical alternative around embargoed Western antibiotics.
Meanwhile the rest of the world is still at committee stage, endlessly debating antimicrobial resistance while the rest of us fatten up daily.
Time to realise that antibiotics are not all they’re cracked up to be. Life-savers in an emergency, but killers long term.
Let’s hope the penny drops soon.
Two thirds of us could be dead by the time the gurus make a decision.
That’s what antibiotics do, they kill bacteria. Hopefully whichever strain it is that’s making you ill.
But inevitably they kill other bacteria as well. The good bacteria unluckily alongside. Antibiotics don’t know how to tell the difference.
Working with killers
So be aware, when your doctor prescribes antibiotics, she knows she’s prescribing a killer.
A pretty momentous decision when you realise that our bodies are more bacteria than human. We might think we’re in charge, but it’s the 90% bacteria colonised inside us that call the shots.
Which means that clobbering a few million bacteria unintentionally might be more hazardous than it seems. Collateral damage with sometimes serious consequences. Suicide option 1.
Gut bacteria usually take the hit, so that’s where the trouble starts. How many of us haven’t complained of nausea or diarrhoea while taking antibiotics?
Sometimes it’s worse than that – and unexpected. Torn Achilles tendon (levaquin), mood instability (fluoroquinolone derivatives), bruising and bleeding (augmentin) or eczema, wheezing, and asthma in children under two (all types).
Not good, when you remember that gut bacteria are there to process digestion, create proteins, regulate the immune system and many other functions.
Then there’s the damage you can’t see, but there’s plenty of evidence.
Antibiotics somehow suppress the control that tells us when to stop eating (leptin hormone). Even more critical, they cause the digestion bacteria to extract more nutrients from food than they should. Energy is over-absorbed instead of passing as waste, so the body stores it as fat.
The slippery slope to obesity. Suicide option 2.
Yes, the gut recovers from an antibiotic hit – likened by some researchers to releasing a hydrogen bomb. But it never comes back 100% to the way it was.
Some bacteria types can regenerate. Others, the rarer kind, might disappear altogether – and whatever their function was, is lost. Which seems to be what happens with putting on weight. Obese people find it next to impossible to get the weight off – their stomachs are jammed at full throttle.
Boosted weight gain
Which explains why antibiotics are used as growth boosters in agriculture. In quantities that boggle the mind. 240,000 tonnes a year currently and set to rise nearly 70% in the next 15 years.
The growth boosting and weight gain is truly phenomenal. From egg to full-grown roasting chicken in 6 weeks – or from new-born calf to Aberdeen Angus sirloin steak in 16 months instead of four years. All achieved by low sub-therapeutic doses added regularly to animal feed.
Which means we get the same low dose of growth boosters as well. We eat them, we ingest the antibiotics in their systems – even though antibiotic additives are withdrawn from feed by law for a set period before going to market.
They’re still laced with them because their bodies work the same way ours do. Remember how antibiotics make our stomachs over-absorb nutrients? Well most livestock animals only absorb around 20% of the food value they chew.
The rest is excreted as manure – to enrich the soil and be taken up by plants. To leach down into the water table too, out into our rivers and into our water supply. And folded back to the animals in the grass they graze, or the soy, maize or whatever in their feed.
In everything we eat
Which also means everything we eat or drink is laced with antibiotics too – meat or veg. Some of them added to boost plant growth and control blight – but most ingested directly or indirectly from the fertile soil.
Waiting for us to come along and innocently nosh it, thinking that a vegetarian diet will save us from the perils of eating meat.
Which brings us back to obesity – if not already triggered by medicine, then activated drip-drip, by the daily intake with every meal. And it’s happening too.
Look around. Already two thirds of UK adults are overweight or obese – and a third of children. The fat epidemic is upon us – quite independently of pizzas, burgers and sugary drinks. Keep up there, Jamie – this is important.
And what does obesity bring? A long, slow decline as the body subsides into complications – asthma, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer. A one-way ticket to long term misery. Suicide option 3.
Doctors recognise the epidemic – a time-bomb set to swamp the NHS as us fatties deteriorate into long-term repeat patients. They’ve got their hands full with a more immediate crisis though – antimicrobial resistance.
Rise of the superbugs
The miracle live-savers we trust antibiotics are, are fast becoming useless as bacteria adapt and become immune – turning into superbugs. Right now, today, there’s hardly a drug in the cupboard that bacteria haven’t found a way to resist.
MRSA, acinetobacter baumannii, CRKP, e.coli, ESBL, NDM-1, pseudomonas aeruginosa, streptococcus are all bugs that have learnt – and create genes that teach other bugs how survive too. Suicide option 4.
Which means, when you come down to it, that all antibiotics are only temporary. They might last two years, they might last ten. But sooner or later, bacteria will learn how to survive whatever we throw at them – and we’ll go back to being vulnerable.
Because you can’t beat bacteria. Don’t forget, we’re 90% bacteria ourselves. And they’re the most successful life form the world has ever seen – learning to survive for billions and billions of years – among the very first living things.
So the big thing that doctors are worried about is when ALL antibiotics fail altogether. Because then modern medicine falls apart. No more heart transplants, hip replacements or caesarean births – we’re back to the Dark Ages, our failsafe is gone.
The day when that happens is hurtling towards us too. With animals gulping down 240,000 tonnes of antibiotics a year, bacteria are getting plenty of opportunity to try, try, try until they succeed at finding a way to survive them. Superbugs are on the rise.
So ban antibiotics
Big pressure is mounting, among doctors and health gurus, to have antibiotics banned from agriculture altogether. Fat hope of that – quite literally.
Thanks to antibiotic growth boosters, world population now is THREE times the size it was since they were first introduced. So is food production – off the same-sized planet. Banning them would cut food production, triggering worldwide famine and two thirds of us would die from starvation. Suicide option 5.
Just possibly though, bacteria will do the job for us.
Antimicrobial resistance doesn’t only sick superbugs on humans. It sicks them on animals too. Our miracle drugs will stop working on them, same as us. So they will die anyway. And world famine will happen just the same.
Because you can’t beat bacteria, it’s like beating ourselves. We’re 90% bacteria anyway, so even trying it is suicide. A demonstration that if we can’t do things naturally, we will get zapped.
There’s too many of us anyway, so this is Nature correcting a speed wobble. Chop the numbers, we read you – and we got the email.
We’ve had the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs, the super-volcano of Yellowstone, the Black Death, two World Wars, the global flu of 1918 – now it’s time for suicide.
We don’t see terrorists coming. We don’t see the dangers of antibiotics either – both of them set to nuke us when we least expect it.
A terrorist bomb might take out a city the size of Greater Manchester – thousands dead, hundreds of thousands more facing years of radiation sickness – like being dead before it actually happens.
Antibiotics are no prettier.
An invisible war
Because to the trillions and trillions of beneficial bacteria in our own gut, nukes are exactly what antibiotics are. Evil invaders who only want to destroy. Mass killers.
Imagine Greater Manchester, millions of times over. That’s what life is like down there in our insides, more bacteria than there are human cells. Reality is, we’re a harmonious, co-existing miracle that’s 90% germs.
Now comes an oral dose of antibiotics – amoxicillin, say – prescribed for some troubling ailment, often unnecessarily. Trillions and trillions of microscopic but benevolent bacteria – versus 250 mg of devastating nuclear destruction.
A massive chunk of your gut, nuked to nothing.
You’re right. The medicine might clobber whatever the problem is – but the body will never return to exactly the way it was. Too many innocent bystanders caught in the fallout. Billions killed, vital diversity reduced. The system is not as strong as the way it was, no longer as all-round resilient.
But there are survivors. Maybe a bit damaged, or not fully functioning – but wise to what antibiotics are capable of, and aware of what they need to do to escape. Next time, even more will endure. And even more after that.
Until the day comes that an antibiotic hits the gut, and our bacteria are impervious. Even to nukes.
Our bacteria have learned how to resist the drugs – even shared their survival skills with others, so all of them are immune. Antimicrobial resistance it’s called – AMR. Wish we could have the same resistance to terrorists.
Except big-scale calamities are not usually the way terrorists work, are they? 9/11 doesn’t happen every day.
More effective – and more insidious – are the little attacks that do. Happen every day, that is. Always there, never letting up, determined to bring us down, little by little. Charlie Hebdo, Bataclan theatre, Brussels airport.
The real killers
Exactly like antibiotics do.
Better believe it.
Because without our even thinking about it, we’re swallowing down antibiotics into our gut little by little with every meal.
In the milk with our corn flakes. In the oats for our porridge. In our bacon and eggs. In the chicken for our sandwich, and the lettuce with it. In the bangers and mash for tea, including in the baked beans.
Little hand grenades in our gut, or letting loose with a machine pistol. Nothing serious, but always damage. Little bits of us that suddenly aren’t working any more.
How is this possible?
It all started back in 1946, when a researcher named Moore discovered the growth stimulation of antibiotics fed to chicks. A colleague named Jukes reached the same conclusion in 1952 – feed small amounts of antibiotics to livestock every day, and they bulk up like crazy.
Money, money, money. Fat, fatter, fattest.
And did we mention money?
Today, 240,000 tonnes of antibiotics are pumped into farm livestock every year. Bigger, better, fatter than ever – and more of them. Enabling our own human world population to explode from 2½ billion in the 1950s, to 7½ billion now.
And of course, all these animals poo – excreting, would you believe, more than 75% of the nutrients they consume – including the antibiotics. “In 2002, 185 million swine sold in the US generated about 280 million tons of fresh manure; in 2006, chicken produced even more (460 million tons), while, in 2007, beef cattle produced 3.6 million tons of manure.”
Knee-deep in trouble
Used as fertiliser for all kinds of agricultural crops – fruit, veg, cereals, grains. And of course feedstuffs for livestock – so that farm animals re-eat the same antibiotics they ate before, with the same effect.
They keep getting fatter and fatter, growing faster and faster – and making more and more money.
Must be tough, being an antibiotics manufacturing company. 240,000 tonnes of stuff turned out by machine ka-chunk-ka-chunk, no effort, no investment – just keep rolling and take the money. No need to invest in new research, the goldmine is already working overtime.
Need proof? Just check your own waistline.
Bigger than it was, huh? You didn’t always wear a Size 16.
But look around, it’s not just you – this is a world-wide epidemic. Two-thirds of us are already way overweight or positively obese. All thanks to the same trigger that makes farm animals fat too – antibiotics.
Whatever food we ingest, antibiotics are in there somewhere. Directly in the food, or absorbed from manure-enriched soil, or leached through into our river systems so even the water we drink is spiked. Antibiotics pollution.
Too big for our own good
Result: obesity is a condition we’re all of us beginning to share – and no way is that healthy.
In fact it’s deadly.
Check the numbers and antimicrobial resistance (AMR) – which means illnesses that cannot be treated by antibiotics – kills about 50,000 of us a year.
But obesity works like the terrorist’s nuclear bomb – wide-reaching, slow-acting, with extreme pain and suffering. The equivalent of radiation sickness – attacking our bodies in the form of diabetes, heart disease, cancer or worse – killing 30 million of us or more every year, and climbing all the time.
Yup – long-term, obesity is going to get most of us. Looking forward to 20 years of medicines, time off in bed, hospital visits, and feeling more and more unwell – more pressure on the NHS than any of us could ever imagine.
Two-thirds of adults – world-wide that’s around 3 billion people. Which kinda makes deaths from AMR look like chicken-feed.
Worse than any terrorist, nuke or no nuke. Worse than any threat we’ve ever faced before – including plagues and world wars.
Is there a solution?
Stop, stop, stop
Short term, eat only organic or ocean fresh – and drink only rainwater.
Long term, STOP USING ANTIBIOTICS and find a replacement.
Anything less and we might as well nuke ourselves.
Because we’re at the point where antibiotics are beginning not to work any more – and modern medicine is going critical. Straighten up and fly right, or dire things will happen.
Out with the big guns
We’d better believe it. According to our top-level heavyweights, it’s time to get tough. With big-stick tactics for getting it wrong.
Like naughty GPs, prescribing antibiotics without verifying there’s a need. Or naughty farmers, dosing livestock with antibiotics, just to fatten them up.
Haven’t they heard of antimicrobial resistance (AMR)? Don’t they realise that they’re helping dangerous bacteria develop immunity to the drugs we treat them with? That superbugs will soon be untouchable and antibiotics will be useless?
Yeah, some Plan B. Not really a plan at all.
Because it’s a fact of life that BACTERIA ALWAYS SURVIVE – and have done successfully for billions and billions of years. Which is why they’re possibly the most successful life-forms on the planet – able to withstand super-hot and super-cold, super-acid, super-dry, super-salty and super-pressure.
And we dare to think an itty-bitty antibiotic designed by humans is going to stop them.
Maybe hold them back for a few years, lulling us into a sense of false security.
Like hey, remember penicillin?
The original miracle wonder-drug. It saved lives for 12 years before the superbugs got wise to it. Staphylococcus in 1940 – cousin and relative of today’s superbug, methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which itself took just 2 years to get in on the act.
But like we said, BACTERIA ALWAYS SURVIVE. They might take a few generations to do it – twenty minutes at a time – so for penicillin, that’s 315,360 generations. Zap – you can’t beat the numbers.
Because, surprise, surprise – among other skills, bacteria are actually able to “teach” each other immunity, passing on their resistance skills to even unrelated types
Yeah? And we think we’re so smart. Because while they’re doing it, the rest of our wonder-drugs store cupboard is rapidly emptying. We don’t wise up, do we?
Antibiotics: crashed and burned
Tetracycline lasted 9 years, until 1959; erythromycin 15 years; gentamycin 12 years; vancomycin 16 years; ceftazidime 2 years; levofloxacin not even 1 year; and ceftaroline the same.
And now colistin, our antibiotic of last resort – the one we turn to when all others have failed – can be resisted by bacteria too.
Get the message? The cupboard is bare.
Which means within our lifetime, without being able to control infection using antibiotics, even routine medical procedures such as caesarean births, hip replacements and heart bypasses will become impossible.
Which is why Lord Jim O’Neill, AMR Review chairman for the Prime Minister, insists that doctors should only issue antibiotics against medically verified proof that they are necessary.
Lord Jim also advocates that drug companies should be strong-armed into developing new antibiotics, to keep ahead of the rising tide of resistance, with cash money incentives if necessary.
Yeah, that would be good.
Mega-buck drugs companies
Especially when Lord Jim’s own review paper identifies that drug companies are currently producing up to 240,000 tonnes of antibiotics a year. Something must be wrong with their pricing structure if they can’t finance new product development out of volumes like that.
OK, so from Lord Jim’s perspective, unless we come up with an alternative, antibiotics will stop working altogether and we’re all going to die. Antibiotics Armageddon.
And that’s just for humans.
Except around 70% of antibiotics world-wide are used to support high intensity factory farming of animals – livestock for food production. 240,000 tonnes, remember?
Now ask yourself, so antibiotic resistance is dangerous to us humans, right? But the animals are only bred for food, their lifespans are very short, not really a problem, hey?
Wrong, big time.
Those animals are farmed so intensively, antibiotics are essential to keeping them alive at all. Stressful, over- crowded quarters, unsanitary conditions – in astronomically unbelievable numbers now vital to support the three-fold population explosion of humans since antibiotics were first discovered.
Food for 3 times as many humans – OFF THE SAME AVAILABLE LAND AREA – in just 50 years.
So what happens if antibiotic resistance hits the animals?
Well, exactly like us, they can’t survive either. Nor can they breed successfully to produce more.
Which very quickly means no more food, no more manure for intensive plant crops – a massive shortfall to bring famine to at least 5 billion people – the difference between the 2½ billion we were 50 years ago and the 7½ billion we are today.
You see, the big thing about antibiotics in food production is they fatten animals up fast. Four years of growth is telescoped into six months – which is how come farmers are able to feed 3 times as many humans – OFF THE SAME AVAILABLE LAND AREA in just 50 years.
And we eat those same animals, so we consume the same antibiotics they do in the food they provide – either directly through daily dosing feedstuffs, or picked up from their manure by plants fed to them as basic forage.
Uh huh. Which means we get fat too – the antibiotics do the same thing to us. Take a look around – yup, now you know why two thirds of all adults are overweight or obese.
Except our lifespans are not the same as theirs – two years and slaughtered, ready for market.
We go on for decades and decades. Getting fatter and fatter – coming down with all the ailments that obesity triggers – diabetes, heart disease, cancer, asthma. All of them massive killers, accounting for way more than the 50,000 a year in the US and UK who currently die of antibiotic-resistant superbugs – like close on 30 million.
You begin to get the picture?
Billions of deaths
Either directly or indirectly, our miracle wonder-drugs are going to be responsible for BILLIONS of deaths. And they are already doing it NOW.
A, we conk out now from some horrible resistant superbug. Or B, we take thirty years to die, getting worse every day from cancer or heart disease.
Thank you, antibiotics! Our killer lifesavers. Like smoking, only worse.
And bacteria are only one type of pathogenic microbes. AMR means antimicrobial resistance, right? All microbe types. So where’s our plan for viruses, fungi, archaea, protozoa, or algae?
Well the heck with Lord Jim, the best plan is right in our bathrooms.
Soap and water. To wash the bugs off our hands – their easiest way into our bodies – through the sensitive tissue of our eyes, nose and mouth.
Clean hands, no germs.
Kinda important when you consider that unconsciously, we touch our faces 2,000 – 3,000 times a day.
Clean hands, good.
Except now, don’t touch anything, because every single thing around us – including the air – is full of viruses and bacteria.
Shock, horror! At any second, we could be exposed to life-threatening pathogens that could be the end of us. Even a paper cut could lead to sepsis – and that’s the end of us.
Except we do have a second line of defence beyond soap and water – and pretty soon you’re going to see it in operation everywhere.
Ionised hydrogen peroxide. Misted up into the air from a mobile Hypersteriliser machine. A mild eco-friendly all-natural chemical – the body makes its own for germ-fighting – composed of only water and oxygen. Dynamically dispersed in all directions by electrostatic charge – the same charge that actively reaches out to grab viruses and bacteria, oxidising them to nothing.
No germs, the place is sterile.
No need for antibiotics, you’re not exposed to anything.
Prevention is better than cure.
Not exactly a Plan B, because it won’t fight infections already in the body – Lord Jim & Co need to focus on that.
Trundle down the meat aisle at your local supermarket.
Just about anything you choose will have antibiotics in it.
Not a big dose, no more than a smidgen. But chances are high that they will be there.
Inevitable really. When you consider how much antibiotics are used by farmers around the world. Estimates vary from 65,000 to 240,000 tonnes. Set to grow around 70% by 2030.
All pumped into animals as part of their feed – deliberately added to make them grow faster. And bigger. Ready for market in a quarter of the time. A miracle side effect of antibiotics.
In fact antibiotics boost growth so much, the world can feed 5 billion more than 50 years ago. Three times more off the same land area – a money-making goldmine.
Which is how come we’re ingesting antibiotics too. And highly likely, antibiotic resistant bacteria with them. Superbugs that have grown immune to the wonder drugs being chucked at them. Untreatable, unstoppable and living in our own gut right now – ready to take us down at any sign of weakness. Or maybe already doing so.
Every little helps – a little too much
You see, it doesn’t take much to get antibiotics to boost growth. Much lower doses than curing an illness. Sub-therapeutic amounts that cost less and go further.
Uh huh. Doses too small to kill pathogenic bacteria completely. The hardy ones survive and become resistant. And it’s the resistant ones that breed, whole colonies immune to treatment.
Worse, bacteria have the ability to pass on their characteristics. They can teach others how to become immune too. In a few generations – which can be as soon as twenty minutes – a whole slew of other bacteria develop antimicrobial resistance, more and more and more. Equally untreatable, equally unstoppable.
And that’s what you’re buying when you visit the meat counter. What you’re taking home to feed your family. So they ingest antibiotics-resistant bacteria too. Which maybe they’re strong enough to withstand, or maybe not.
So when the Doc diagnoses their illness and prescribes a particular antibiotic – absolutely nothing happens. Down in their gut, the bacteria laugh it off.
No escape for vegetarians
Don’t think that going vegetarian will help you much either.
Pretty well most plant crops are treated with antibiotics of some kind or other – to boost growth or reduce disease or both. And if that’s not enough, they’re probably fertilised by manure from animals that have been fed antibiotics anyway. The stuff is so fertile because most of them only digest 80-90% of what they eat, the rest is excreted as waste.
Super-grow wonder-poo laced with antibiotics and antibiotic-resistant bacteria both. Which is ingested by plants, fed back to animals in specially grown feed crops, leaches into the ground to enrich future crops – and runs off into our waterways to wind up in our taps.
Get the message?
Whatever you choose from the meat section – or poultry, or produce, or dairy, or even bakery, is almost certain to contain both resistant superbugs and traces of antibiotics.
All this and obesity too
If you don’t get ill immediately, your body may develop resistance to certain medicines in the future. And of course, since every mouthful doses you with proven growth boosters, there’s every chance that you will start getting fat – even though you work out like crazy, eat very modestly, and watch your health like a hawk.
But don’t go bashing your supermarket. Quite probably in the entire organisation, nobody will have any idea that superbugs are an issue, or that antibiotics are contained in almost all the foodstuff they sell.
What can you do?
Well, you don’t know whatever’s grown on the manure-chain, so even going organic might not help. Nor going 100% vegetarian. About the best will be to grow your own veg – and switch to ocean fresh fish, the kind that can’t be farmed. There may be other pollutants in there, but hey, we’re so careless about the whole planet, that’s inevitable. It can’t be as bad as the constant dosing we’ve all had up to now.
Global headache for medics
Makes you appreciate how worried the Docs are from the medical standpoint.
Seen today’s news? In Thailand they’re already talking about a “collapse of the modern medical system” staring us in the face. And our own Dr Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer for England, is warning that with the drug companies reluctant to develop new antibiotics because there’s no money in it, then this is a problem that is for ever.
Yeah, well. Excuse us, Mr Moneybags Drug Company, but if you’re already producing 240,000 tonnes a year, how much profit do you need to make?
And when are we going to stop also being part of the problem, all by our little selves?
Here we are, worried to death about the abuse of antibiotics, and yet we demand 10 MILLION prescriptions a year are written for conditions where they’re absolutely useless.
We’re not doctors, so what do we know?
But that doesn’t stop us demanding antibiotics for colds and minor infections where they would actually do more harm than good. We kid ourselves we know best and put the strong-arm on the Doc – who caves in to the aggro, so that 97% of us get the unnecessary meds we’re hucking for. And if we can’t get it that way, we run off and buy it on the Internet.
Is this a death wish, or what?
One thing’s for certain, it’s we ourselves who have to take action. The global problem is so big, it may never be resolved in our lifetime.