I thought I Understood Anti-biotic Resistant Bacteria — Until I watched this 9 Minute Video by the NYT

https://nyti.ms/2If6Gbn via @nytvideo

Here is my key take-away. I thought each type of bacteria became resistant to one kind of antibiotic. Then, slowly, when that antibiotic-resistant bacteria are faced with exposure to a different antibiotic, that bacteria which is already resistant to one antibiotic, became resistant to the second, different antibiotic. And so on.

In other words, each of the billions of types of bacteria would have to each, in series, become resistant to each of the antibiotics we manufacture.

This would mean it would take many, many years for all or most bacteria to become resistant to every different kind of antibiotic.

So, it turns out, that is not what is happening.

To give you as sense of how many bacteria exist, each human carries more bacteria than they have human cells.

In survival mode, bacteria are now sharing antibiotic resistant DNA with each other.

This is not good. Not good at all.

Different bacteria are sharing antibiotic resistant DNA with each other, so only one type of bacteria can become resistant to a specific antibiotic, and then, because they are sharing the antibiotic resistant DNA, they all become resistant to that antibiotic.

The effectiveness of an antibiotic is now limited to the time it takes the bacteria to share the antibiotic resistant DNA. And since bacteria move around the planet on planes and ships, that sharing has become much more efficient.

What does this mean?

The bacteria resistant antibiotics share this DNA faster than we humans can make up new antibiotics (which takes about a billion dollars and ten years.)

This means humans will start dying again, in very large numbers, from bacterial infections.

When that starts happening we may finally stop giving eighty percent of the antibiotics in use to animals we raise for food.

It is likely that the political and economic interests that keep this process continuing, will win up until humanity goes through the years of deaths needed to force changes in our collective behavior.

We will be forced to evolve since we have already lost this battle, because the bacteria are sharing bacteria resistant genes with each other.

And the effects of the loss of this battle with bacteria will play out as long as it takes for us to make changes in how our society is organized, like not using antibiotics to raise animals for slaughter.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply