Now it’s inevitable: total global antibiotics failure

Worried farm vet
When antibiotics stop working for animals, we’re all at risk

Inevitable as in OMG, failure as in serious.

Imagine World War Three, a Force 5 hurricane and an end-of-the-dinosaurs meteor strike all at the same time.

All caused by the weapons we use against microscopic adversaries we can’t even see – the antibiotics we use to fight pathogenic bacteria.

Busted miracles

Amazing creations, antibiotics. Enabling modern medicine work miracles every day.

Except their edge is blunting fast – as canny bacteria mutate to develop resistance to our wonder-drugs – increasingly immune to everything we throw at them.

Antimicrobial resistance or AMR, it’s called. Bacteria impervious to even heavy doses of medication – just another bump in the road to the most successful single-celled living creature of all time – the latest hiccup in 5 billion years of evolution.

Of course, AMR was always going to happen. Bacteria are ultimate survivors – able thrive at temperatures from a freezing 0⁰C to a volcanic 350⁰C – in acidity from near pure water to concentrated battery acid – and if necessary, even without oxygen.

So that messing about in a laboratory for anything except a short-term solution is futile. Alexander Fleming, father of modern antibiotics even said as much in his 1945 lecture accepting the Nobel Prize.

His concern was that the bugs could gain immunity from under-dosing – killing the weakest but allowing the strongest to escape from non-lethal quantities. And with an organism able to divide by fission into new cells in as little as 20 minutes, it was only a matter of time before bacteria found ways.

Tick, tick, tick

They certainly did. Against penicillin, discovered in 1928 with resistant staph emerging in in 1940; tetracycline, introduced in 1950 with resistant shigella in 1959; erythromycin, launched in 1953 with resistant strep occurring in 1968; methicillin in 1960 with resistance in 1962; levofloxacin in 1996 with resistance in the same year; linezolid in 2000 and resistance 2001; daptomycin in 2003 and resistance in 2004.

Today it’s even worse, with some superbugs becoming pan-resistant – responsive to NO antibiotics at all. Small wonder that Dr Dame Sally Davies, England’s Chief Medical Officer, sees AMR as a threat on the same scale as terrorism.

Except that Dame Sally is wrong on the focus, medical AMR is just the tip of the iceberg. Agriculturally, AMR is many, many times bigger – so that, short of a massive alien invasion, antibiotics resistance is quite possibly the biggest challenge ever to the human race.

Check the math.

All in the numbers

In 1950, world population was 2,557,628,654 –the biggest killers were pneumonia and TB, and ploughs on the farm were still drawn by horses.

In 2016, world population is 7,334,771,614, most diseases are completely under control and “factory farms” are highly mechanised.

300% increase in mouths to feed, but the land area to produce the necessary food is still the same. Mechanisation? Sure. GM crops? Let’s face it, farmers have been fiddling with plant breeding for yonks. But three times as much food to eat from the same space, how is that possible?

Right first time, antibiotics.

First used as a growth promoter in 1950 – and today fattening up livestock so much that round the world, 65,000 tons of agricultural antibiotics are swallowed by cows, pigs, chickens and sheep every year.

Yeah, well that’s the OTHER thing antibiotics do – they bulk up animal bodies – twice the size in half the time, on half the feed. From fresh-laid egg to a 1.5 kg supermarket chicken in six weeks – from new-born calf to a full-size Aberdeen Angus steer in one year instead of four.

Feeding the billions

Which is how come farmers can produce food enough for 7.3 billion hungry people from the same land once struggling to feed 2.5 billion.

Put in perspective, and looking at USA beef cattle production only, 1950s technology would require an additional 165 million acres to produce the same amount of beef, an area about the size of Texas – 20% of mainland America.

Or as the Yanks like to boast, 25% of the world’s beef from 10% of the world’s cattle.

It’s antibiotics make this possible – that compensate for the intensive battery-style living, the highly stressful over-crowding, the low level of hygiene from animals living on top of each other, the otherwise unavoidable breeding grounds for animal disease and infection.

Antibiotics in feedstuffs bulk animals up – and also keep them healthy in impossible conditions.

But animals are living metabolisms too – and just like us, the bacteria inside them develop resistance to the constant flow of antibiotics going through their bodies. Billions of times more likely than with humans – there are billions more of them.

Pan-resistance everywhere – antibiotics failure on a colossal scale.

Which means the day is coming when animals fall ill from the living environments they’re in – and with antibiotics no longer able to protect them, disease goes through their thousands and thousands like wildfire. Round the world, other food animals pick up the contagion, sicken and die.

Plants too, suffer the same antibiotics resistance, succumbing to the many types of blight and other disease that fruit, vegetable and grain crops are prone to.

Hunger and famine

Without food, 7.5 billion start feeling hungry.

Never mind AMR, it’s FAMINE that’s going to get us. With no way out, except for a lucky few – in a world surrounded by dying animals and vegetation.

Impossible, surely?

You mean inevitable. Antibiotics resistance is a fact. In medical circles, it is already an emergency. And AMR is already widely reported across agriculture. Total failure is already on the cards.

OK, so several billion of us aren’t going to make it.

Those that do will have to live in a world without antibiotics. So will the animals, out in the open where they belong, not cooped up in jail for us humans. And for every living thing there’ll be no more miracle drugs.

Just as 100 years ago, a simple scratch or mouthful of iffy food could be the last of us. So it’s back to Victorian-style carbolic and scrub, meticulous hand-washing hygiene before and after every activity as our first line of protection.

We will certainly need it. After seven decades of constant antibiotics ourselves – in our medicine and from the foods we eat – our immune systems are weaker than they ever were, less robust, less resilient – our internal gut bacteria ravaged by the same antibiotics supposed to be so beneficial.

Get out of jail free

Which means hygiene around us will be critical too. At home, in our workplaces, in all the enclosed spaces where we group together, vulnerable to each other’s germs and the normal germs on everything around us.

Fortunately, a Hypersteriliser can keep our surroundings sterile – making them safe with misted hydrogen peroxide that kills all viruses and bacteria by oxidation. Kinda like external antibiotics, but without the downside.

And yes, we will fight back. We won’t have antibiotics, but we will have phages – go-getter body VIRUSES that attack harmful bacteria – a therapy that has been used in the former Soviet Union for even longer than antibiotics. Not back to the future, but forward to the past.

We SHALL overcome.

Picture Copyright: goodluz / 123RF Stock Photo

Back Off, Bacteria! is the blog of Hyper Hygiene Ltd, supplier of what we’re convinced is the most effective health protection system in the world. A fully mobile, all-automatic Hypersteriliser machine mists up workplaces with ionised hydrogen peroxide, spreading everywhere and eliminating all bacteria, viruses and fungi.

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.

Originally posted on 15 January 2019 @ 5:40 am

Originally posted on 15 January 2019 @ 5:40 am

Antibiotic-itis: all of us have it – can we escape it?

Girl in mask 2
We all eat food, so we all have the problem – over-exposure to antibiotics

Never heard of antibiotic-itis?

Maybe you never will. Concerned medics will probably come up with a “safer” name for it. Less scary – like Chronic Immune System Degeneration or CISD – less to worry about behind anonymous letters.

Whatever they might call it, it exists all right.

World-wide threat

And we’ve all got it. All of us who buy food at the shops, that is. Not the lucky few still living in jungles or out in the wild where food is all natural. The ones never exposed to antibiotics.

Because we are, you see. Bombarded by them every day. Not just in the medicines we take, which is a whole other issue – but in the food we eat that comes from farms. Meat, veg, organic, whatever – imported or locally sourced – they’re all produced with masses of antibiotics to boost fast and super-developed growth.

Right now, world usage of agricultural antibiotics is just under 65,000 tonnes a year if you accept the official figures – but almost five times that if you probe deeper.

A lot of these drugs are added to animal feed to keep them healthy in the crowded mass-producing factory farms where clean conditions and good hygiene are near impossible. At least that’s the accepted line.

The real reason is that antibiotics boost growth by quantum leaps. From chicken’s egg to a 1.5 kg roasting chicken in six weeks. From calf to steak in the butcher’s in eighteen months. Big money.

Your midriff bulge

Want proof?

Check your own waistline. Chances are you’re a bit bulgier than you were a few years ago. You’re bulking up, just like farm livestock does. They eat the antibiotics, you eat them, the same drugs are in your system, doing the same thing – making you fat.

The antibiotics aren’t supposed to be there, of course. Farmers are required by law to withdraw all antibiotics from feedstuffs several weeks before market – and keep records to verify it.

If only it was that easy.

Because it’s a fact of life that cows and other animals only absorb 80 – 90% of the nutrients they eat, including antibiotic residues.  The rest passes out as dung, highly prized and widely used as manure.

Manure of course, gets used for everything – from grain crops, to feedstuffs, vegetables and fruit – including a lot of organic produce. Plus it leaches into the ground and into the water table, which is why tests show up antibiotics even in the stuff that we drink. If they’re right there in the Thames, they’re everywhere, particularly oxytetracycline – used in industrial quantities by agriculture, way more than people flushing unused tablets down the loo.

Oh yes, and antibiotics are also used directly to boost plant growth too – injected, mulched, manured – so even committed vegans among us are getting their daily dose too – though maybe not as heavy as regular mainline omnivores. Plus antibiotics in plant crops are not monitored or regulated by legislation, so there could be any amount in there.

Daily worse and worse

OK, we get the message. Every one of us probably has a three-times daily dose of non-medical antibiotics every day of our lives – and has had since birth.

Yeah well, the flip side of that is that our bodies are 90% bacteria, particularly down in our gut where there are over a 100 trillion of them – handling our digestion, producing proteins and regulating our immune systems, among thousands of other functions.

And antibiotics work by killing bacteria.

Which means not only do we bulk up fast, just like farm animals do – our gut bacteria are being savagely depleted or damaged more and more every day, no longer able to do the many things our bodies require.

The immediate downside is weight gain of course – suddenly we’re unhealthily heavy and long-term there is always a price. It might be type 2 diabetes we wind up with, or cancer, or heart disease, or any number of other slow, progressive and life-threatening ailments.

The slo-mo epidemic

But the universal CAUSE is antibiotic-itis – Chronic Immune System Degeneration.

And a lot more happens than just weight gain. Where else do we suddenly get all these afflictions that we never had before? When was the first-ever outbreak of norovirus – or Norwalk virus as it used to be called? 1972? What ever happened before then?

And how about the slew of allergies we never used to have – asthma, eczema, hay fever, urticaria, coeliac disease, dermatitis, lactose intolerance, nut allergies and a million more – a three-fold increase on where we were back in the 70s?

Our own miracle drugs are slowly killing us, day by day – slightly more of a medical nightmare than the antibiotic-resistant superbugs that doctors are currently worried about.

And way more of an epidemic than any single infection we might currently be being treated for. Diabetes, cancer and heart disease are all long-term illnesses – a disaster happening in slo-mo. The extra inch on our waistlines is just the beginning.

Biggest worry of all is the steadily worsening damage to our immune systems – every day our natural resistance is weaker. We’re on the slippery slope and the last thing we can use to treat it is antibiotics. But we’re not dead yet, and we do have options.

Ways to get out

Watch out for increasing medical interest and focus on bacteriophages – using “good guy” viruses to precisely target and destroy singled-out “bad guy” bacteria WITHOUT KILLING ANY OF THE OTHERS in our gut microbiota. Phage therapy was used widely in the Soviet Union during the dark days of the Cold War – a parallel technology that developed because antibiotics were only available in the West.

Our other defence is hygiene. Ramping up our personal cleanliness so that germs can never touch us, they’re instantly washed away. Hand hygiene is the start of course, washing thoroughly before and after everything, particularly meals and going to the loo.

The follow-up is eliminating germs from our living space – our homes, schools, offices, restaurants, hotels, meeting places, entertainment centres – the indoor places where we always congregate, putting ourselves at risk from each others’ viruses or bacteria.

Total room sterility

Not a problem there either. Now we have the Hypersteriliser, it’s the easiest thing in the world to sterilise any room totally, destroying all viruses and bacteria, on surfaces or in the air down to almost zero – 99.9999% germ-free, a Sterility Assurance Level of Log 6.

Antibiotic-itis? Yeah, we might hear of it. Because round the world we have to persuade farmers to stop using the things – at all. And in between time, eat only organic or non-farmed food.

Then chances are good it will go away before it gets serious.

Otherwise…

Picture Copyright: vonschonertagen / 123RF Stock Photo