Multidrug Resistant Superbugs Expanding Quickly in Developing Countries, Killing Babies
A blistering report by the World Health Organization combined with studies specific to different regions indicate that antibiotic resistant bacteria are growing faster among developing countries.
This rapidly growing legion of multidrug resistant bacteria threatens everyone as these bacteria are spreading to other countries.
A report from India indicates that over 58,000 infants died last year from multidrug resistant bacteria. This in addition to adult deaths of others equates to a disaster that Obama administration officials recently called a threat to national security.
Why Superbugs are Spreading fast in India
The problem in India according to medical officials lies with the fact that the lack of sewer treatment and proper sanitation causes the spread of bacteria. It is estimated that about half of the people still poop outside.
But practically every Indian pooped outside and without a sewer until recent times. What has changed is that antibiotics are now being sold over the counter in public drug stores.
This dramatic uptick in antibiotic use – for just about any infection – has spiked the production and distribution of antibiotics among the Indian people far beyond other countries.
As this antibiotic use has expanded, so has the frequency of antibiotic resistant bacteria infections. This is because the bacteria are increasingly becoming immune to the antibiotics.
And as these legions of antibiotic resistant bacteria grow, so have infection deaths.
The World Health Organization’s report found that India has one of the fastest rates of superbug infections, but developing countries as a whole are now hosting more antibiotic resistant bacteria because they are also utilizing antibiotics with less guidance and control as exists in most Western countries.
The Irony of Antibiotics
This is quite ironic, because antibiotics were developed and mass produced in Western countries before being introduced to developing countries. But now developing countries account for much of their uncontrolled use, and this spread of MDR superbugs is now headed back to Western countries.
Soon we will have few if any antibiotics available to treat bacterial infections.
Which Bacteria are the Fastest MDR Superbugs?
According to the WHO report, the fastest growing infectious superbugs include:
- Multidrug resistant Escherichia coli – which cause a variety of intestinal, blood and urinary tract infections
- Multidrug resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae – which cause pneumonia, blood and urinary tract infections
- Multidrug resistant Staphylococcus aureus – which cause wound and skin infections, blood infections (forget MRSA – methicillin is but one of the antibiotics these superbugs are resistant to now)
- Multidrug resistant Streptococcus pneumoniae – which causes pneumonia, meningitis, ear infections
- Multidrug resistant Salmonella – foodborne infections, blood stream infections and intestinal infections
- Multidrug resistant Shigella species – which cause dysentery
The combination of these MDRs from developing countries and the increased use of antibiotics into the future threatens everyone everywhere, because bacteria do not recognize borders. They travel with people and eventually infect every region.
The Rise of Beta-Lactamase
One of the reasons for this threat is something called beta-lactamase. This is a type of enzyme that is produced by some bacteria that allow them to be resistant to many types of antibiotics, including penicillins and ephamycins.
The ability to produce this enzyme makes this bacteria also dangerous within the body, as it makes the bacteria resistant to many of the immune system’s strategies as well.
The ability of a bacteria to produce beta-lactamase will be transferred from one bacteria to the next with the transfer of genetic matter through what is called a plasmid.
One particular type of plasmid is called NDM-1 – which stands for New Delhi metallo-beta lactamase.
India is currently overwhelmed with beta-lactamase bacteria, but now this plasmid is being found throughout the world. A recent report from France found that NDM-1 has become a “major global health problem.” They found NDM-1 Klebsiella pneumoniae and NDM-1 Escherichia coli bacteria in the UK, Italy and other countries.
Is there a Solution?
Face it: This is only going to get worse. The question is whether we are going to arm ourselves with the only possible weapon – probiotics.
The fact is, antibiotics are static weapons. Yes, most antibiotics are at least initially produced by yeast or bacteria. But once they become mass produced, they become static. The living bacteria soon develop the defenses to combat them.
This might be compared to a country mass producing spears for warfare. Centuries ago, spears were very successful in battle. But now people have developed machine guns and bombs. The spears are no longer useful.
But because the people of other countries have been responding to this increased weaponry, many countries now have these weapons. Why? Because humans are alive. They want to survive, so they keep developing more advanced weapons to combat their challengers.
Bacteria are the same way. Probiotic bacteria are alive, so they can develop the weapons to fight these stronger superbugs by becoming stronger themselves. This has been proven by the research.
In addition, as reported in other research articles on this site, plants are also increasingly producing compounds that can take down these superbugs. Why? Because plants are also alive, and they need to survive the same onslaught from superbug bacteria. So they produce biochemicals that can even kill off beta-lactamase producing bacteria.
The key is to work with nature – not against it.
World Health Organization. Antimicrobial resistance: global report on surveillance 2014. May, 2014
Berrazeg M, Diene S, Medjahed L, Parola P, Drissi M, Raoult D, Rolain J. New Delhi Metallo-beta-lactamase around the world: an eReview using Google Maps. Euro Surveill. 2014 May 22;19(20).
Laxminarayan R, Duse A, Wattal C, Zaidi AK, Wertheim HF, Sumpradit N, Vlieghe
E, Hara GL, Gould IM, Goossens H, Greko C, So AD, Bigdeli M, Tomson G, Woodhouse W, Ombaka E, Peralta AQ, Qamar FN, Mir F, Kariuki S, Bhutta ZA, Coates A, Bergstrom R, Wright GD, Brown ED, Cars O. Antibiotic resistance-the need for global solutions. Lancet Infect Dis. 2013 Dec;13(12):1057-98. doi: 10.1016/S1473-3099(13)70318-9. Epub 2013 Nov 17. Erratum in: Lancet Infect Dis. 2014 Jan;14(1):11. Lancet Infect Dis. 2014 Mar;14(3):182.
Publish Health Foundation of India. State of India’s Newborns 2014
Tavernise S. US Aims to Curb Peril of Antibiotic Resistance. NY Times. Sept 18, 2014.
Adams C. PROBIOTICS-Protection Against Infection: Using Nature’s Tiny Warriors To Stem Infection and Fight Disease. Logical Books, 2012.