It’s amazing how time flies. It seems like just yesterday we could go into a doctor’s office with a bacterial infection, undergo a quick examination, and be sent on our way with an antibiotic prescription. We knew we would get better and get back to our normal routine without any concern.

Back then, medicine was considered a given and no professional was thought to be…

gambler(A Gambler…)

Today is a much different story and medical professionals everywhere are realizing treatment is more a game of chance than an action of certainty.

This change in predicament is all thanks to a natural process used by bacteria to stay alive in the environment. Scientifically, this phenomenon is an evolutionary process in which the genetic makeup of the bacterium changes such that it can produce proteins and other molecules allowing it to tolerate the presence of biologically toxic molecules. But most people simply refer to it as antibiotic resistance.

Since its discovery back in the 1940s, resistance has changed the medical landscape
like a…

ring-fire(Ring of Fire…)

In the last few years, almost everyone has since heard about the rise of resistance and the threat of what is being called the post-antibiotic era. Even the World Health Organization has deemed the current situation a crisis. Still, for most people, keeping this worry at the forefront has been difficult at best. After all, we can still go to the doctor and get a prescription that works.

But reality may have finally hit home and more people may end up thinking about antibiotic resistance as much as I do. It’s…

always(Always On My Mind…)

Last week, the media reported on the tragic death of a women in Nevada. The story, which was published by the CDC, sounded like it came from the pages of a novel. She was in her 70s and had shown up at the hospital with what was assumed to be a mild hip infection. The doctors gave her antibiotics but they didn’t work. They tried again and again but there was simply no change in her condition. Eventually, the bacteria entered her blood – a condition known as sepsis – and she eventually succumbed to the shock.

When the doctors sent the bacteria for testing, their worst fears were realized. The cause of the infection, a species known as Klebsiella pneumoniae, was resistant to all available antibiotics in the United States. There was nothing that could have been done.

If you’re like me, just hearing this story might cause you to…

falltopieces(Fall To Pieces…)

But there is some solace to be had. The woman did not acquire the infection in America. She had been in India and had been to a hospital there for surgery.  The bacterium was not native to the United States and thankfully, a search in other areas of the hospital revealed it had not spread. This was, in essence, an isolated case.

That being said, this story of life and death sends an ominous message. In some parts of the world, antibiotics simply cannot save the day. A visit to the hospital may no longer be considered a means to resolve a health condition. Instead, much like before the advent of antibiotics, the house of health may once again become a…

heartbreak(Heartbreak Hotel…)

Hope is not lost, however. Although antibiotic resistance continues without any sign of slowing, researchers are doing their best to find ways to combat the resistance.

This is, however, no easy task as bacteria have a significant advantage over us. They quickly evolve and can share resistance mechanisms with one another. For any scientist, taking on this task is daunting. Trying to find answers is even more challenging. Commitment is a necessity and one must accept this job requires more than just…

ninetofive(9 to 5)

Thankfully, the work is leading to victories. For example, researchers recently have revealed a way to ‘reverse’ a certain type of antibiotic resistance. They have developed a molecule capable of stopping the mechanism used by certain bacteria to resist several antibiotics. It’s not quite a watershed moment but it is comforting to know progress is being made. You can read about this discovery here: Molecule shows ability to thwart pathogens’ genetic resistance to antibiotic.

For the most part, the war on resistance is being fought in laboratories and healthcare facilities meaning there is little we can do to join the battle. Yet, there are ways we can help keep the scales tipped in our favour. All that’s needed is to take a closer look at how we ride that horse called life and figure out a new way to get…

saddle(Back In The Saddle Again…)

We can pay closer attention to hygiene. We can comply with proper food handling and cooking processes. We can avoid medical tourism and make sure we are vaccinated when we travel to certain areas for the world. Perhaps the best choice we can make is to avoid meat from animals raised on antibiotics.

If you have added these activities to your daily life – even if it’s not to reduce the spread of resistance – I thank you. They may seem like small actions but they can make a big difference when done en masse.

Granted, it will take time before we see an anti-resistance movement. Yet this woman’s tragic story may convince more people of the dire consequences we face. To be honest, this can’t happen soon enough. We need people to identify with the problem, appreciate the risks, and realize what needs to be done now.

In essence, for us to win this war, we need everyone to say…

light(I Saw The Light…)

 

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