Modern medicine has brought us many refinements to our health and quality of life. However, it’s worth mentioning that the overall improvement in human health over the past 500 years has been due to the widespread availability of running water, shelter, and food rather than medicine.
That being said, advances in treatments for infection have taken us a long way from the horrors of pre-historical times. Today, life-saving surgeries can be performed which would have been a death sentence without antibiotics that are commonplace today. And many cuts and scrapes which would have led to the loss of a limb or death just 100 years ago, today, are considered to be exceedingly minor.
However, nothing comes without a cost. As any engineer will tell you, no improvement can be had without accepting some kind of functional sacrifice. In the realm of antibiotics the power of the evolutionary process is making this fact abundantly clear.
While evolution may work exceedingly slowly on large multicellular animals like dog, horses, and humans, in the realm of bacteria, mold, and viruses, the effect of evolutionary changes can be seen over the course of a few years or even weeks.
What this has meant for us is that the antibiotics which we have counted on for many decades have imposed a need to change and evolve on the germs that prey on our bodies. It is a challenge that the microbial world is rising to meet—with terrifying alacrity.
Enter the age of the superbug; MSRA, Ebola, the Superflu, Swine Flu… the list goes on and on. Infections that easily overpower antibiotics and seem to follow us hither and yonder in our efforts to escape their carnivorous capabilities are rapidly making hospitals into some of the most dangerous places we will ever go.
In the year 1846, the Hungarian doctor Ignaz Semmelweis led the charge pushing for his contemporaries to wash their hands frequently. At the time there was little to no concept of germ theory. The idea that little monsters- too tiny to see- could prey on humans was unimaginable. Semmelweis’ intuition told him that doctors who were practicing on corpses and using them to teach medical students were carrying germs from the corpses to their living patients and killing them. At the time, demons seemed a more common sense explanation.
Semmelweis’ wisdom saved lives for some time. But, eventually, the medical industry forgot him, since there was nothing solid to back up his ideas. Today, we know that a doctor’s tie, the seemingly innocent decoration that it is, actually serves as a vehicle for many dangerous microorganisms to travel from room to room, patient to patient, causing innumerable deaths.
We have mentioned several times on this site the fact that accidental medical errors are officially considered the third leading cause of death for Americans. The unintended spread of infections by incautious doctors is among the most significant reasons for this frightening statistic.
But unfortunately, even if we were to convince our physicians to pin their ridiculous ties to the shirts, thereby spreading less MSRA from one patient to the next, microorganisms would still have the advantage of rapid evolutionary rates.
Today, the germ that’s making headlines is the Yaws microorganism. While it is not yet officially a “superbug,” Yaws is an infection that attacks skin, bones, and joints. It is not quite deadly, but it can permanently disfigure its victims.
For those who live in the region of origin for this germ- Southern Africa, those living in poverty, those working the land- are especially susceptible to the ravages of Yaws.
For reasons that are not entirely understood, Yaws appears to be reacting to the increasing use of antibiotics in the treatment of its victims. The germ is changing with extreme rapidity, and because it is also highly communicable, it also has the potential to develop into a major epidemic that would be very difficult to stop.
The Lancet medical journal published a study concerning a population in Papua New Guinea where the disease was especially prevalent. It covered the dovetail in success rates of interventions which terminated in the nearly complete ineffectiveness of antibiotics by the end of the trials.
Lead author of the study, Dr. Oriol Mitj, commented, “Drug-resistant cases were resolved by a repeated injection of benzathine benzylpenicillin.”
As the doctor’s comment suggests, the difficulty treating Yaws was overcome by repetition of antibiotic applications. But this alone shows that in time existing antibiotics are destined to be rendered impotent.
~ Health Scams Exposed