May 29, 2008

Killer Bacteria

What does the SR71 Blackbird have in common with bacteria? Read on and you'll find out.

We've got bugs in our stomach.... and bowels. "Good" bugs. We also can carry pathogens and pass them on through our bowels.

Creepy topic, but it gets creepier than merely passing on diseases. That's because some of these bacteria are becoming more and more resistant to antibiotics. This creates super strong strains of bacterial borne diseases and infections, once easily treated, that now do not respond to common antibiotics.

Scientists are unraveling the mystery. But first, a little background.

Bacteria are like rabbits, except that they reproduce faster. On Darwinian's principle of selective reproduction, only the strongest bacteria survive, which in turn, are succeeded by the strongest of the next generation. This process is accelerated when people do not finish their antibiotics prescriptions allowing a small number of bacteria to survive the "treatment." Those survivors are typically the strongest.

However, it appears that environments other than animal hosts play a role in creating "super bugs." I've recently heard of two cases.

The first case is found in Hilton Head near a golf course that is irrigated with treated municipal waste water. 39% of the bacteria samples from the nearby water are resistant to three or more antibiotics. This is 3-times what is found in bacteria typically found at hog farms, and 5-times what is typically found in bacteria from treated municipal waste.

The second case is at a hazardous waste site where the high-tech skin of the SR71 was manufactured, among other things. Bacteria at that site were found to be resistant to 24 of 26 types of antibiotics that were tested. Apparently metals can trigger genes in the bacteria to express resistance to antibiotics. The bacteria were were so unkillable that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) requested samples from the academic researchers for further study.

Another interesting finding is a pattern of bacteria with high antibiotic resistance being found in the waste water of more affluent communities. It makes sense, because the more affluent can afford more medical care that includes more exotic antibiotics. Ironically, this implies, statistically, that the affluent people are more likely to have confrontations with antibiotic resistant bacteria.

Perhaps this is how the meek will ultimately inherit the Earth.

... This just in....

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Linked to Bacteria Infections...

Related Update:

Disinfectant wipes routinely used in hospitals may actually spread drug-resistant bacteria rather than kill the dangerous infections, British researchers said on Tuesday. [More]


Associated Press, Gut superbug causing more illnesses, deaths By MIKE STOBBE, AP Medical Writer - Wed May 28, 2008.

Reuters, Antibacterial wipes can spread superbugs: study, June 4, 2008.


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