The Difficult Fight against Multidrug-Resistant Bacteria

Klaus Ferlow, HMH, HA—07/2015
Multi-resistant bacteria are soon to become a greater threat to our health than even cancer, and yet the cause of this resistance — the over-prescription of antibiotics for both humans and animals — continues unabated. If this does not stop, we face a frightening future.

ACURRENT STUDY shows that soon, more people will die in Germany from infection caused by multi-resistant bacteria than from cancer. Deutsche Welle television network broadcast a report stating that approx. 50,000 people die in Germany annually of infections caused by superbugs; this often occurs within 8-14 days after they have undergone successful surgery because hygiene in many German hospitals is inadequate! However, there are no fatalities in Dutch hospitals due to excellent hygiene after surgery! It is therefore no wonder that a currently-popular saying declares that: "The most dangerous place on earth is a hospital!"

Bacteria, against which most antibiotics are powerless, already cause thousands of deaths in German hospitals every year. Now researchers are sounding the alarm because incidents involving multidrug-resistant bacteria such as MRSA, ESBLs and Vancomycin-resistant enterococci are increasing at an alarming rate. At the same time, the number of new antibiotics coming onto the market every year is constantly dropping, since the complex development of new active ingredients is worth less and less for the pharmaceutical industry due to both the considerable burden of obtaining approval and the faster development of resistance. For these reasons, experts are demanding that the government make incentives available for the industry to advance research.

Physicians increasingly powerless

The situation is dire: physicians in intensive care units are fighting for the lives of their patients daily, and their "arsenal of weapons" is shrinking! Even if an effective medication still existed, the fact is that many doctors prescribe antibiotics too often, and therefore the body develops a certain resistance. The subsequent search for a cure becomes complicated: bacterial detection from the throat swabs and blood of patients often takes days, and in 20 % of cases, the microbiologists will not even identify it. Increasingly, they are powerless and can only hope that the immune system of the patient alone will overcome the bacteria. Many patients are infected in hospital by drug-resistant bacteria. Many, too, already bring the bacteria into the hospital and get sick from it only when the bacteria enter the body during a procedure or when their immune systems are weakened by some other disease. Experts estimate that more than 10 percent of all citizens are carriers of multidrug-resistant bacteria. These people are a danger not only to others, particularly patients with a weakened immune system, but also to themselves, if they need to go to the hospital.

These days the overly-frequent and naïve administration of antibiotics is considered to be the reason for the increasing development of resistance. As soon as a small number of germs survive an antibiotic, they reproduce and pass on their genes to other bacteria. Large hospitals increasingly employ specialists who advise the treating physicians during the targeted use of antibiotics.

Interesting statistics from United States of America

Over ninety percent of Americans experience each year are viral in nature and immune to antibiotics, but medical statistics indicate that seventy three percent of the estimated 6.7 million visits by adult to physicians complaining of sore throats between 1989 and 1999 resulted in a prescription for antibiotics.

In October 2005 the Discover Magazine published an article with the title "Are Antibiotics Killing Us?" that made an irrefutable case showing how antibiotics use has accelerated the spread of drug-resistant genes to the public and threatens our very survival!

Antibiotics are now responsible for adverse drug reactions, producing resistant strains of deadly bacteria. Testing results of water, including drinking water show antibiotics being accumulated from human waste as w ell as from runoff traceable to animal farms that overuse antibiotics as growth promoters. In a chain of events these residues bioaccumulate in fish and other aquatic life with still more antibiotics somewhere along the food consumption chain.

It is reported that on average, every teenager in the United States is treated with one prescription for antibiotics every years and most of them for sore throats, ninety percent of which are viral and therefore not responsive to antibiotics! As a result this unnecessary usage of antibiotics creates deadly strains of resistent bacteria that prey upon the immune system and weaken it by the overuse of antibiotics.

Limiting antibiotic use encouraged

To avoid resistance, experts are encouraging that a general limit be placed on antimicrobial use outside hospitals.

Alexander Fleming, the discoverer of the first antibiotic "penicillin" in 1929 did already warn that improper use would lead to the developments of resistant bacteria. But it seemed that nobody in the medical profession was listening and as a result we lost control!

Industrial livestock production is increasingly proving to be a particular problem. It is responsible for the greatest amount of antibiotic consumption in Germany, and this situation is actually identical all over the world! It is particularly in regions having especially huge stables as, for example, in Lower Saxony that resistant bacterial strains are repeatedly transferred from animals to people through direct contact and via the exhaust air of the stables or applied manure. And resistant bacteria are also increasingly found in and on meat products in the supermarket.

Experts are therefore urging that farm animals should be kept in their stables in such a way that they can stay medication-free. In addition, it is important that people’s physical defences be strengthened by a conscious life change to improve hygiene in the hospitals and the promotion of the development of new antibiotics. See also my article "Conventional versus Herbal Antibiotics — What is the Difference?"

Otherwise, supposedly simple infections such as skin or urinary tract infections or even mild lung infections threaten in future to become virtually non-survivable diseases — with life-threatening consequences for those affected.

 

 

References:

Sanchez Sergio, Demain Arnold L., Antibiotics, Caister Academic Press, 2015

Gallagheer Jason C., MacDougall Conan, Antibiotics Simplified, Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2013

Walsh Christopher, Antibiotics, ASM Press, 2003

Reese Richard F., Betts Robert F., Gumustop Dora, Handbook of Antibiotics, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2000

Wiley, Antibiotics and Bacterial Resistance, Wiley-Blackwell, 2013

Shlaes David M., Antibiotics, Springer Book Archives, 2010

Blaser Martin J., Missing Microbes, Henry Holt and Company, 2014

Podolksky Scott H., The Antibiotic Era, John Hopkins University Press, 2014