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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

29 January 2013

For today's Daily Quota, we touch on a topic that has gotten health officials very, very worried.
Basically, it's the fact that many strands of bacteria are doing what nature does best and adapting to their enemies - in this case, antibiotics. 
A lot of strands of common diseases and infections are developing a resistance to the drugs used to treat them. This is bad news; really really really bad news. Imagine the simplest infections being fatal. Imagine routine surgery being fatal. Imagine an influenza variant becoming fatal. Yep.

What's caused this, though?
Alfonso J. Alanis wrote a very educational piece on the topic in 2005. He outlined the natural mechanisms of resistance, as well as the causes - the main one being overuse and abuse of antibiotics.
Notice how you need more and more Codrals to tackle that bigger and bigger flu? Or the fact that almost everything is cured with penicillin these days? Well, both of these examples spell big problems for you, and for humanity.

I was brought onto this topic by the lovely Cassie, a friend of mine. As such, I thought it appropriate to let this long-term reader have her say on the topic.
Everyone shut up and hear her wordmusics. Take it away Cass.

The year is 1837 and the immigrant ship 'Lady McNaughten' docks the shores of North Head, Sydney infested with Typhus Fever and Scarlet Fever. The first of thousands of ill-fated passengers depart the ship and enter an atmosphere teeming with infectious disease and death. There is nothing anyone can do to cure these women, children and men so why not quarantine them? Separate them from the rest of society while they await their inevitable, slow and painful death.
Not long after, small pox, tuberculosis, the plague, pneumonia and influenza hit the shores of sydney. Between 1828-1984 at least 580 ships were quarantined, more than 13,000 people were quarantined and hundreds upon hundreds of people died. As each ship hit the shores, many tried to do all they could to help eliminate disease. Each and every person was showered in Phenol a type carbolic acid used to literally burn and strip the skin with the hope that in doing so the disease would magically diminish. There was no antibiotics to fight off these diseases, no medication, there was nothing but sheer panic. There was no cure, there was no treatment. Thousands of people fell victim to such infectious diseases all over the world.
Fortunately, in 1928 Alexander Fleming, a bacteriologist in London discovered 'Pencillin' a mould that had an antibacterial action. Consequently, in the 1930's the first antibiotics were prescribed and between the 1940's-1970s death due to infectious disease decreased. Scientists were certain that the war against infectious disease was won. In 1969 William Stewert a US surgeon General valiantly told the US Congress that it was time to "…close the books on infectious bacteria." Happy Days?
What if I told you that in the year 2013 scientists, doctors and governments were in fear of an apocalypse. Not the sort that most of you imagine. A type of apocalypse that is becoming dangerously real. In the year 2013, the whole world is in danger of taking a massive leap backwards. So far back, that we will land right back where we started, into a pre-antibiotic era. Superbugs are on the rise and are stronger than ever before. So what are superbugs? Put simply, they are a strain of bacteria, so strong that antibiotics have no effect on them anymore. How can this happen? simple really, the misuse and abuse of antibiotics.
Imagine a world without antibiotics, a simple cut that becomes infected can become deadly, simple medical procedures such as surgery and operations becomes deadly. Simple treatments of everyday illnesses such as pneumonia could be eliminated. Back to square one we go.
This could be our world in the near future. Scary.

Today's Daily Quota is a recent article from The Guardian on the topic. It's very brief, very gloomy and should very much be on our radar. 
Have a read, put down those tablets, and start showering with Dettol. 

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