No more saving lives, bacteria win: end of the road for antibiotics

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Worried med team
Antibiotics dilemma: short-term lifesavers, long-term killers

It’s already started and nothing can stop it. Bacteria are winning, as doctors always knew they would.

Survivors for billions and billions of years, we dared to think we could fight them and beat them. Dazzled by the brilliance of antibiotic healing, we were too proud to see the reality underneath – that every day they were actually killing us more and more

Not so super

Now our miracle lifesavers have met their kryptonite. Super powers gone, melted into nothings, they’re unmasked as the killers they always were.

Because that’s all that antibiotics ever did – kill bacteria.

First the bad bacteria that made us ill, making us think they really made us better.  Lifesavers, amazing.

Then the good bacteria we all have in our gut, so essential to our systems that they’re 90% of the bodies we inhabit. Not that we knew that at the time. Or even worried about it that much.

Bad bacteria dead, good. Good bacteria dead, bad.

Whoops.

But that was before we even thought about gut bacteria. Or even knew we had any. Or that they were so vital to our existence. Or that exposing them to antibiotics would destroy or disable key bodily functions we had no idea they influenced. Digestion, hunger control, chemical balance, immune system management.

Actually, we’re still not taking that seriously enough. Titanic has already hit the iceberg and instead we’re anguishing about antibiotics resistance – still clinging to antibiotics as miracle drugs, even though they’re not working any more because bacteria have mutated to become immune to them.

Wake up, everybody – that ship is already sinking.

Bacteria always win

Because bacteria have won and always will – it’s only a matter of when. Even Alexander Fleming admitted that they would, right back in 1928 when he discovered penicillin.

And just check out how quickly they do it.

Penicillin-resistant staph emerged in 1940, just twelve years later – when antibiotics were still in their infancy, not used on the scale they are today. Then as usage ramped up, resistance developed faster, some strains happening almost overnight.

  • Tetracycline introduced 1950, resistance identified 1959.
  • Erythromycin introduced 1953, resistance identified 1968.
  • Methicillin introduced 1960, resistance identified 1962.
  • Gentamycin introduced 1967, resistance identified 1979.
  • Vancomycin introduced 1972, resistance identified 1988.
  • Ceftazidime introduced 1985, resistance identified 1987.
  • Levofloxacin introduced 1996, resistance identified THE SAME YEAR.
  • Ceftaroline introduced 2010, resistance identified 2011.

And these are just the short list!

Food, food, food

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the big discovery was that antibiotics promoted growth of animals and plants Big Time. Four times as big, in a quarter of the time, on the same amount of feed.

These were the original  fattening drugs – fed to farm animals every day in sub-therapeutic doses that ensured continued growth – overriding natural hunger controls so that animals gorged and gorged, supersize ready for market.

And of course, pooed out onto the ground to be used as fertiliser for feed crops and other plant types, maintaining antibiotics levels right through the food chain to our dinner tables.

Which means that we eat them too, so they make US fat  – which is how come two thirds of adults are now overweight or obese, with killer illnesses like diabetes, cancer and heart disease to look forward to –thousands of times more deadly than all antibiotics resistant superbugs put together.

Time to fight back

Oh sure, we could develop new antibiotics to cope with newly-resistant bacteria strains – a few short-term wins if we could meet the cost. Save a few thousand lives before bacteria mutated again and nixed everything back to zero.

Well, not exactly zero because our continuing daily sub-therapeutic food doses would still ensure we succumbed to diabetes, cancer, heart disease or any of the many other deadly killers once thought eradicated, now poised for a comeback – TB, pneumonia, typhoid, cholera, bubonic plague, back to the Dark Ages.

Our only defence?

That’s back to the Dark Ages too – illness avoidance, but with a modern twist.

Avoiding germs means making sure there aren’t any – you can’t catch them if there aren’t any around.

So, soap and water, back to washing our hands. Every opportunity we get, scrub, rinse, dry.

And not just our hands, but the spaces around us – the things we touch, the air we move through, our enclosed and shared daily indoor world. Protected by ionised hydrogen peroxide mist that destroys all viruses and bacteria by oxidising them to oblivion.

Safe, sterile, secure spaces where our weakened bodies and our precious gut bacteria, ravaged by a lifetime’s exposure to antibiotics in our food, are no longer threatened by external bacteria intent on destroying us.

Next stop, getting the antibiotics OUT of our food. No easy task with anywhere from 65,000 to 240,000 tonnes of them being pumped into agriculture every year (per the Prime Minister’s specially requested review ) – enabling population numbers a staggering 5 billion higher than half a century ago.

Lots of big money, lots of vested interests, lots of incentive to do nothing.

But don’t worry, bacteria will take care of that too.

With antibiotics still in our food, long term illnesses will continue to rise. So will death rates from an increasing number of dread diseases. Maybe by the time half of us are killed off, we’ll come to our senses and stop using the damned things.

They’ve let us play God for long enough, now it’s time to start paying.

Picture Copyright: matthewephotography / 123RF Stock Photo