Deadly and Untreatable Superbugs Hitting Critical Mass
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that a deadly antibiotic-resistant strain of bacteria is growing among hospitals and other health care facilities, and comes with a high rate of fatality.
The CDC’s Director, Dr. Tom Frieden reported in a recent announcement that this strain of bacteria, called Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae or CRE, is now killing about half of hospital patients who become infected.
Worse, infection incidence of this Enterobacteriaceae strain is growing, and beginning to hit critical mass.
The bacterial infection – now dubbed the “nightmare bacteria” – has been seen in 42 states in the U.S. And during the first half of 2012, almost 200 hospitals across the US were hosts to the deadly infection.
On March 6, Dr. Frieden announced that approximately 50% of patients who become infected with CRE die from the infection. “We only have a limited window of opportunity” to stop the spread of these superbugs, said CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden. At a press conference Tuesday, he said he was “sounding an alarm.”
“CRE could be the beginning of the end of antibiotics,” stated Dr. Frieden, with regard to treating the growing infection rates of antibiotic-resistant bacteria such as CRE. “We need doctors and health care providers to take rapid action,” he added.
“More and more patients are at risk of serious infection and death,” Dr. Frieden warned.
In a recently published study by the CDC’s Atlantic Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion, researchers found that many state health departments were not equipped or prepared for the extent of emerging antibiotic-resistant bacteria infections like CRE in their states.
“A better understanding is needed of the factors that motivate and facilitate state health departments to engage in a public health activity despite the challenges of competing priorities and limited resources,” the researchers concluded.
This is an astonishing state of affairs for the conventional medical institution that has prided itself for its ability to stem various infections with antibiotics. CRE is only one of a growing cadre of bacteria species that are becoming resistant to bacteria, including MRSA – Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus – another deadly bacterial infection that has been plaguing many hospitals. MRSA has also spread to health and recreational clubs among other venues over the past few years. Other deadly infections, such as tuberculosis, are also becoming antibiotic-resistant.
Soon, doctors will not be able to fight many more types of bacterial infections with antibiotics.
Carbapenem antibiotics are considered an antibiotic of last resort for a host of different infections. These include Staph, E. coli, pneumonia and other infective conditions. Carbapenems are considered a last resort because they are one of the strongest of the available antibiotics. As bacteria become resistant to this, there is little conventional medicine can do.
Experts around the country agree that the over-prescription of antibiotics by doctors over the past five decades has contributed to this disaster.
At issue is the reality that bacteria are not static creatures. They are alive, and like every living organism, their desire to survive causes them to adapt over time to environmental challenges. In this case, it is antibiotics.
What is the answer? Fighting fire with fire is the only reasonable answer to this dilemma. These are territorial living organisms that challenge other living organisms – other types of bacteria – for the occupation of territory. This has been the case for hundreds of millions of years on this planet.
As different species of bacteria seek out their territory, they are perpetually challenged by other species, which keeps their counts controlled. Thus, certain species will take hold of some territories, and beat off others. This is the case amongst bacteria called probiotics: These are bacteria that have colonized the human body over hundreds of thousands of years.
As bacteria fight each other for territorial control, they use a variety of weapons, including antibiotics, which they produce biochemically. The only difference between these types of antibiotics is that as the enemy adapts to one type of antibiotic, the other bacteria will develop a new one.
Just as humans are constantly updating our weapons of war, this is a constantly changing landscape of bacterial warfare – one that competing bacteria have established over millions of lifetimes and generations.
Why is conventional medicine’s antibiotic experiment failing? Because we have intruded upon a natural process of bacterial colonization: We have interrupted nature’s course, thinking that we are so intelligent and we know all the answers.
The fact is, we don’t. The real “limited window of opportunity” is not to somehow “save” our remaining antibiotics. The real window of opportunity is for humans to develop a little humility regarding the design of nature in managing itself without our unnatural interventions.
It is only with the development of humility will we save the human race. It is only by respecting nature and our environment – understanding that there is a larger wisdom inherent within nature – that the generations after us will remain on the planet.
Written by Case Adams, Naturopath
Guh AY, McDonald LC, Sinkowitz-Cochran R. Assessment of Public Health Perspectives on Responding to an Emerging Pathogen: Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae. J Public Health Manag Pract. 2013 Feb 26.
Frieden T. Director’s Briefing: CRE Infections and Antibiotic Resistance. CDC 2013. March 6.
Associated Press. CDC officials report increase in dangerous superbugs in hospitals; urge steps to stop spread. New York. 2013. March 5.
Adams C. Probiotics – Protection Against Infection: Using Nature’s Tiny Warriors To Stem Infection and Fight Disease. Logical Books, 2010.