Antibiotics are probably the most famous drug category, useful in treating a very wide range of diseases and infections. Many scientists and medical experts consider them to be our “last line of defense” against certain medical conditions. Unfortunately, we can become defenseless way sooner than we expected.
According to a recent announcement by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, an infection killed a woman from Nevada. At first, this looks like an ordinary event. However, once we look into the case, we learn something very worrying, to say the least. The cause of the infection was a micro-organism that proved to be resistant to every known antibiotic available in the USA. The term used for this type of health threats is “superbugs”.
Some may consider this name to be exaggerating and scary, but the reality is that superbugs are real, they are becoming more and more frequent and, if the predictions turn out to be true, they will have killed about 10 million people by the time we reach the middle of the 21st century.
The main reason behind the appearance of superbugs is the concept of biology known to every single one of us, the theory of evolution. Here is a quick and simple explanation concerning the creation of the aforementioned threats:
1) A bacterium or some other pathogen appears and starts infecting people.
2) People use antibiotics to battle the medical issue. Antibiotics are not 100% effective most of the time, meaning they do not kill all of the bugs but simply the overwhelming majority of them.
3) The ones that survived the antibiotic attack start reproducing, creating strains that are also resistant to the drug.
If the third one of the above steps is repeated a few times, each time the list of antibiotics to which the pathogen is immune expands, and pretty soon there are none left to kill it.
What we can do is avoid using antibiotics when they are not suggested by our medical examiner simply because all we do is create more “survivors” and end up speeding up the superbug creation process.
We are facing one of the most serious medical problems ever. All we can do is hope that science will advance soon and enter a post-antibiotics era where new drugs will be able to eradicate infections without allowing them to survive and evolve.