Antibiotics Armageddon. Are we too late for Plan B?

Survivor

Clean or else – we CAN survive germs if we learn to avoid them

Wait a minute, did we ever have a Plan B?

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.

Yeah, but…

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.

Ultimate survivors

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.

Seriously?

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.

Living hell

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.

Antibiotic damage

But hold on. Antibiotic resistance is only part of the problem.

Antibiotic damage is another.

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.

Fighting back

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.

But a helluva lot better than nothing.

Picture Copyright: ersler / 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 16 February 2019 @ 7:35 pm

Originally posted on 16 February 2019 @ 7:35 pm

Antibiotic resistant superbugs: back to basics now Plan B no longer saves lives

Space scrubber
The heck with Plan B – without antibiotics, it’s back to the future to survive germs

Once upon a time there was no such thing as antibiotics. No Plan B.

No superbugs to catch if they were resistant. People survived by living clean and healthy.

What kept us alive back then was clean water supplies, good sewerage, proper waste removal and high personal hygiene.

Kids went to school, washed and polished, hands and faces bright from brushing. All water was boiled. And washing got done the hard way – by hours of rubbing and scrubbing.

It worked too. People knew that living clean kept them safe from germs. Dirt made you sick.

Then antibiotics came along and people started taking chances. Dirt might make you sick, but antibiotics made you well again. Doctors could perform miracles without risk of infection. To infinity, and beyond.

Our great hygiene leap – backwards

Fifty years later, our water systems are older. Make that ancient – they were 100 years old in the first place. Pipes have rusted, other stuff has seeped in, leaks enough to fill 1,235 Olympic swimming pools a day flood our streets.

Our waste problems are even worse. For instance, in 2013 and 2014, 1.4 BILLION TONS of raw sewage were pumped into the Thames, far more than before our sewer system was even invented.

In the meantime, we’ve also become careless.

A little dirt in our lives? No problem, antibiotics will make us better when we get sick – wonder lifesavers for everything, so we gobble them down like sweets. And today we get away with chances our grandparents would never have dreamed of.

Except that germs no longer want to play that game. After 50 years of misuse and abuse, they learned how to survive antibiotics. To become immune. To stay alive, no matter what we chuck at them, resistant even to our last-resort triple-whammy specials.

Last resort drugs failure

Today, when all else fails, doctors fall back on two hard-core antibiotics they keep in the back of the cupboard. Carbapenems (actually a whole spectrum of antibacterials) and colistin. Our antibiotics Plan B.

Now here’s the bad news.

Carbapenems are already compromised by the emergence of a superbug more potent than existing villains like MRSA (methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus). Known as carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae (CRE), around 50% of people who get it into their bloodstream die.

Very much the second choice because of its kidney-damaging side-effect, colistin is not much better. Chinese researchers first found a strain of escherichia coli resistant to it in 2013.  Not surprising, since down the road is a factory producing 10,000 tons of it a year – as a growth promoter for pigs and poultry.

So that’s it for Plan B, then. What now?

Our horrible hygiene habits

Back to basics, of course. It worked for our ancestors, it can work for us too.

And keep us alive.

Amazing what you can do with soap and water, isn’t it?

Which we certainly need to climb into. There’s three times more of us on the planet than there was back then. Which means three times more germs, because we’re all made of bacteria anyway.  Plus the personal germ clouds each of us carries around with us. And three times more  sewage – 11 million tons A DAY in London alone.

That’s a lot of germs, all milling around waiting to infect us. Waiting for us to get careless.

Which we seriously do, because we can’t see germs. They’re too small.

So we look at our hands and we reckon they’re clean.

As if.

Meanwhile, our reality check is that:

Since we’re that dirty, our workplaces are not so clean either. All those things that never get cleaned – light switches, door handles, touch screens and keypads. Not forgetting our desks of course, with 10 million germs on average, just waiting to have a go at us.

Wash your hands – or else

Puts a new perspective on why we’re always coming down with colds and tummy bugs, doesn’t it? We’re lucky it’s not something more serious. Which, with something like sepsis and NO ANTIBIOTICS THAT WORK, it could easily be. A simple paper cut could be the infection that kills us.

Which is why we should be getting rid of the germs around us too – in the workplace, in restaurants and public buildings, in schools – even on public transport.

You leave home healthy, your hand grabs banisters, strap handles, escalator railings and door knobs.  Then you pick up the office phone, which hasn’t been wiped since it was installed five years ago – and wonder where the tummy cramps came from that night.

So, get rid of the germs if we want to survive. Make it part of the daily cleaning routine so the place is always safe first thing in the morning. All it takes is a dose of ionised hydrogen peroxide every night and the place is sterile.

OK, so if antibiotics aren’t working, there are options besides Plan B.

Ramp up the hygiene and it’s back to the future – saving our own lives.

Picture Copyright: khunaspix / 123RF Stock Photo and jgroup / 123RF Stock Photo