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Superbugs

The Newest Threat to Human Health

Getty Images/Flickr RF

Getty Images/Flickr RF

Melissa Vinding, Editor

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For the past couple of months, more and more talk has been circulating around the topic of superbugs, antibiotic resistant bacteria, which are a huge threat to human health. The superbugs stem from the overuse of antibiotics on livestock such as cows; the bacteria became immune to the drugs we use to fight them.  Twelve species of superbugs have been identified, the most dangerous of them being Klebsiella, a bacterium that causes respiratory, urinary, and wound infections. The scariest part of having bacteria being antibiotic resistant is that the infections they cause are quite common.

Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny from the World Health Organization (WHO), the assistant director general, says, “We are fast running out of treatment options, if we leave it to market forces alone, the new antibiotics we most urgently need are not going to be developed in time.” which is terrifying in itself. What once seemed as harmless illnesses, can now be deadly because of the evolved bacteria. Doctors are under the clock, they have to develop entire new antibiotics for not just one type of superbug, but twelve.

The cause of the development of the superbugs is the overfeeding of the now useless antibiotics to livestock to prevent infection. The original staph germ started in humans and was then passed onto pigs; while the pigs were infected with this germ, it became antibiotic resistant. After evolving into a superbug, the staph germ made its way back to humans and now cannot be treated. As mentioned earlier, Klebsiella is one the infections at the top of this new list; a case of this was a woman who caught the bacterium and even after 26 treatments, the normally non-threatening infection turned out to be fatal.

New superbugs could appear any day and treatment options are running low; a new drug may not be developed until after these fatal cases get out of hand. The world needs to be prepared for this new obstacle and from the words of a doctor, keep washing your hands, it’s the simplest prevention and very effective.

 

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Superbugs