antibiotic resistance


World Health Day: How to make a terrifying message boring | 

Drug resistance. Here’s WHO‘s Dr. Margaret Chan warning:

Yes, it’s a pretty boring video presentation — unless you actually listen to what she’s saying. Then, it’s kind of terrifying.The drugs we have come to depend upon to protect us from infectious disease and other killers are losing their oomph.

As NPR’s Scott Hensley notes, drug resistance is natural: Bacteria and viruses will always adapt, evolve, in order to get around our medications. So the trick is to use drugs wisely and not contribute to the problem by over-use of antibiotics, which basically trains bugs how to evade our defenses.

Other stories marking World Health Day and the problem of drug resistance:

The Guardian: Antibiotic resistance – Bacteria are winning the war

Scientific American: Drug-resistant genes found in bugs found in New Delhi water system We are entering a post-antibiotic era

Reuters: WHO warns that drug misuse increases drug resistance

Latest Superbug Not a New Bug, Maybe Not Super. Just Evolution | 

E. coli


E. coli

Two story themes have come out recently that should remind us that bacteria rule this planet.

Bacteria were here first, they constitute most life on the planet, we wouldn’t survive without them and the best we can probably hope for is prudent accommodation.

A big story over the last few weeks was the warning of a new superbug, which wasn’t quite right.

It was actually a new gene mutation — dubbed New Delhi metallo-β-lactamase 1, or NDM-1 for short — that can transform a normally harmless bacterium like E. coli into a drug-resistant menace.The bugs involved here are not new and neither is the tendency for genetic change. It’s what they do.

The Indians were not too happy about the “New Delhi” part of the name given for this mutant gene because of the threat the news poses to their booming “medical tourism” industry. But that’s another story … The gene mutation was found in several dozen British patients who had traveled to India for health care, within two very common digestive system bacteria E. coli and K. pneumoniae.

Predictably, given the sometimes unholy alliance between the public health community (which on occasion needs to get your attention) and the media (which always needs your attention), the story was initially played as a huge new potential threat to humanity and then, a week or so later, as overblown. Continue reading