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A world without Antibiotics

What will we do when none of our antibiotics work anymore because bacteria have developed immunity to all of them?  Apparently that day is closer than most of us realize. And, given that they are expensive to develop, get used for a couple of weeks at a time when they are prescribed (as opposed to, say, a new heart medication which will get taken for the rest of a patient’s life) are considerably less profitable than other kinds of drugs, we don’t really have anything new and different in the antibiotic development pipeline.

So, what’s the big deal?  How about:

• Transplant surgery becomes virtually impossible. Organ recipients have to take immune-suppressing drugs for life to stop rejection of a new heart or kidney. Their immune systems cannot fight off life-threatening infections without antibiotics.

• Removing a burst appendix becomes a dangerous operation once again. Patients are routinely given antibiotics after surgery to prevent the wound becoming infected by bacteria. If bacteria get into the bloodstream, they can cause life-threatening septicaemia.

• Pneumonia becomes once more “the old man’s friend”. Antibiotics have stopped it being the mass-killer it once was, particularly among the old and frail, who would lapse into unconsciousness and often slip away in their sleep. Other diseases of old age, such as cancer, have taken over.

• Gonorrhea becomes hard to treat. Resistant strains are already on the rise. Without treatment, the sexually transmitted disease causes pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility and ectopic pregnancies.

• Tuberculosis becomes incurable – first we had TB, then multi-drug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) and now there is XDR-TB (extremely drug resistant TB). TB requires very long courses (six months or more) of antibiotics. The very human tendency to stop taking or forget to take the drugs has contributed to the spread of resistance.

Far be it from me to be a herald of Doom and Gloom, but we’re probably looking at something like this within our lifetimes.  I guess the upside is that the Obamacare Death Panels won’t be such a big deal because most of us old people will die of complications from, what are now, relatively minor infections, thereby readjusting the balance between young workers and old social security recipients back to something more sustainable.  Probably a good thing, as I don’t think there’s a politician alive with the balls to do what would actually have to be done to make Social Security viable as things stand now.  That and most of the old hippies who are making such pains in the ass of themselves over “sustainable, eco-friendly lifestyles” will probably die of tuberculosis passed along by hitting the same joints with their friends who are curing their XDR-TB with holistic homeopathy and wheatgrass juice recommended by their Holistic Living Advisor/New Age Doctor (who was formerly a transplant surgeon) and whose exorbitant office visit charges are being paid for by Obamacare.

(via GeekPress)

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