Brink of an antibiotic apocalypse?

Since the discovery of penicillin in 1928 the prevention and treatment of infections has been revolutionised, and many millions of lives have been saved.

Many different antibiotics were since developed and used. Unfortunately they have also been misused and overused, not just by humans but also with stock to improve production of meat.

The ability for new medical treatments to keep ahead of evolving bacteria is under serious threat.

Resistance of bacteria to antibiotics has become a major problem. Since 2009 only two new antibiotics have been approved in the US.

NZ Herald: The Big Read: Is the world on the brink of an antibiotic apocalypse?

Scientists are becoming increasingly worried about the threat of an antibiotic Armageddon but are Kiwis in the dark? As a week-long awareness campaign InfectedNZ kicks off, science reporter Jamie Morton talks to two leading Kiwi microbiologists.

Across the world, scientists and clinicians are becoming increasingly worried about bacteria and other pathogens, which are evolving to resist drugs at a rate outpacing the development of new medicines.

In a world without antibiotics, previously treatable infections will once again become deadly, or may require amputation to stop them in their tracks.

Because antibiotics are also used to prevent infection in vulnerable people, it will also become life-threateningly risky to perform routine operations such as caesarean sections and joint replacements, and treatments like chemotherapy for cancer.

In a series of recent reports commissioned by former British Prime Minister David Cameron, economist Sir Jim O’Neill estimated that without urgent action, antimicrobial resistance would kill 10 million people a year by 2050, more than will die from cancer.

Already, an estimated 700,000-plus people worldwide die each year due to drug-resistant infections.

But the effect could be much more devastating when even today’s easily-treatable diseases are found harder to combat.

As described it’s a big read, but an important one. It’s associated with a campaign this week.

New campaign launches

The new online campaign InfectedNZ, running this week, aims to boost awareness about the health, social and economic impacts of infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance across New Zealand.

The campaign will feature a series of research-driven blog posts and social media conversation.

It’s being hosted by Auckland University-based centre of research excellence Te Panaha Matatini, while data used in the discussions is collated and provided by Figure.NZ, a charity devoted to getting people to use data about New Zealand.

“We decided it was time we started a national conversation about infectious diseases and what we’re going to do about the looming antimicrobial Armageddon,” said Wiles, who has helped organise the campaign.

“That’s why we’ve asked leading health, social and economic researchers, and people with personal stories, to write for us this week at tepunhahamatatini.ac.nz and on social media with #infectedNZ.”

tepunaha_logo31

More at InfectedNZ.

 

 

 

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52 Comments

  1. Kevin

     /  22nd November 2016

    Superbugs. I’d be much more worried about them than global warming.

    Reply
  2. J Bloggs

     /  22nd November 2016

    Unfortunately its all too late – Superbugs are the new reality, and even if new antibiotics are discovered, they’ll get pissed away just as the other ones have been. No matter how careful the health professionals try to be, you’ll always get those who can’t be bothered to take the full course or, as shown on one documentary, can’t afford to pay for a full course, so only take as many as they can afford (which is worse than taking none at all as they both fail to cure the illness while allowing the bacteria ample opportunity to become resistant to the antibiotic). And thats not counting those who demand or take antibiotics unnecessarily (e.g. for the flu – which is viral).

    The outlook is grim….

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  22nd November 2016

      Is there any evidence to support your belief that failure to take the full course enables resistance to develop? It doesn’t seem to have any logic to me. If a resistant mutation occurs it will survive and presumably propagate whether or not the resisted antibiotic is being administered. Arguably it will be more heavily selected for and then likely to spread precisely when the antibiotic treatment is continuing.

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  22nd November 2016

        Whenever I’ve had them, the full course has been given to me in one go, as I remember. Repeats are not charged for, anyway, only the first lot.

        I cannot understand people using antibiotic handwashes and soap when they know the danger that these present.

        Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  22nd November 2016

          Yes, continuing and excessive use seems far more likely to create resistant strains than insufficient use.

          Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  22nd November 2016

            Are those supposedly antibiotic soaps still being advertised ? They are such waste of money at best and dangerous at worst !

            Reply
  3. Pickled Possum

     /  22nd November 2016

    ” antibiotic resistance across New Zealand.”
    Typical response from the drug companies and their gang of deluded professionals.
    So they will grow nastier drugs to counteract the meanies and go on and on … trying to outsmart the viruses and bacterial super brains.

    Just like the war weaponry industry, just build bigger more powerful weapons.
    When does it end … boyz with toys …
    Just leave it alone, the synthetic alternatives to real medicine.
    IMHO these anti drugs are creating the Superbugs

    Wash Your Hands after toilet and outside garden activities,
    Be more proactive about your food intake and the storing cooking and harvesting of food.
    Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze,
    Simple things to do to Avoid the ‘pills’.

    There are many things in Nature (that Monsanto would have us believe are ‘weeds’ and have no place on this earth,) that we can use to help us have a healthier life, a more disease free life, butt society is now used to and loves swallowing the cure all take one a day for the rest of your life pills, that the doc gives happily. Some even appear to be a willing and able pimp for the drug companies
    .
    There was a survey taken last year? the expert swabbed library books from Libraries all over America and found transmittable diseases running hot, ewwww, with herpes simplex at the top. All over that black leather and mild beatings erotic book Grey something? I’ve forgotten the name, but that had the most diseases of any book in the all the tested libraries.

    Personal hygiene and accountability for yourself is a better way. better than more meaner useless toxic addictive drugs. Does it bother others that drug companies made a billion + $$$$ profit, in such a small land as NZ.
    I mean, Who ?? is swallowing all this shit and what are the side affects and does it have an impact on society, of course.Just because it’s licit does not make it a cure.
    Try echinacea, propolis t-tree oils or tinctures, and lavender this is a powerful cure for my many little scraps I get outside.
    Be Proactive about your own Heath and be checking out your doctor like your were gonna marry her/him/them/ before the doc puts pen to paper and writes out you a superbug vaccine.

    Reply
    • PDB

       /  22nd November 2016

      Maybe just singing ‘Kumbaya’ will do the trick? No doubt in your padded cell you are safe from infection.

      It isn’t the antibiotics that have been the problem, it has been the over-prescribing of them.

      Reply
      • Pickled Possum

         /  22nd November 2016

        Jez Pants what’s this “Kumbaya” you lot always gone on about … got the lyrics.
        I will not have to be in a padded cell to be safe from infection, scaremonger education just tells you that so you to can be another drug taking (I am safe) pill popper.
        If you/someone/anyone got vaccinated from the stupidity virus and some one say like Oli-veertotheleftright didn’t, could you catch the stupid virus from him?
        Antibiotics and the over prescribing of them … make for Bigger and Better Superbugs.
        Docs and Drug companies working for a brighter healthier (cough cough) future for NZ.

        #Tokyo just had another big earthquake 7.3 and NZ is on tsunami watch.

        Reply
      • I fail to see how antibiotics and over-prescribing of them can really be separated PDB?

        It would be good for everyone IMO if the two could be separated, but with the weight of Big Pharma, American privatised and letigious medicine and doctor’s ‘ease’ acting like a tsunami pushing in the over-prescription direction I wonder if its possible?

        This is to say nothing of the agricultural over-use of anti-biotics … their escape, effectively, into the agri-fauna ecosystem … with us humans at the top of the unwholesome ‘food’ chain …

        When I was about 21 and a smoker I had one throat infection after another – almost continuously – every one of which I was prescribed anti-biotics for. I eventually had my tonsils out and resolved to avoid anti-biotics if I possibly could from then on. I built up my immune system and resistance. I think I’ve taken courses of antibiotics three or four times since then … in about 40 years … They need to be treated as a last resort I reckon …

        Singing is good medicine … don’t you find …?

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  22nd November 2016

          Handwashing won’t cure pneumonia or other such things. Antibiotics will.

          Patients who insist upon antibiotics for every little thing are not likely to be given them now, from what I gather, if the antibiotics won’t do any good.

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  22nd November 2016

            “Hand washing won’t cure pneumonia or other such things. Antibiotics will.”
            Tell me about it. I got it this last Winter. I had to go through three courses, each time with a different type until I ended up with the strongest, most broad spectrum of the lot. I just coudn’t get rid of it. Bloody scary, struggling to breathe for weeks.

            Reply
            • That sounds scary for sure. Out generations have been very lucky to have antibiotics available, but that may not last.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  22nd November 2016

              The feeling of fighting to breathe is terrifying-you think that you’re going to die. I have had bad asthma some springs, and that was incredibly frightening-I remember coming back by the walkway and having to stop every few yards, much to the dog’s surprise. By the time I’d crawled home, I couldn’t speak-so I couldn’t have called for help. I didn’t even have enough breath to use my inhaler properly.

              I have also had bad chest infections, inc. pneumonia-it’s hideous.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  22nd November 2016

              I have seen signs in doctor’s waiting rooms that say that antibiotics won’t cure this, that and the other so don’t bother to ask for them (or words to that effect) as you won’t be given them.

            • Unfortunately the horse has just about bolted.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  22nd November 2016

              Yes, one can’t stop people using antibiotic soap, which I believe has done great harm. How can people be so stupid with all the warnings about these ? They must know that they are at best pointless and at worst dangerous.

            • Gezza

               /  22nd November 2016

              Yep Kitty, I live alone and I had a few nights when I seriously wondered if I was going to wake up. I left it too late to go to the doc in the first place, as a former-smoker, I was used to the odd minor chest infection that a few days of red seal echinacea 500 mgx2 3-4 times a day just got rid of.

              Also, I’ve had asthma since a child: it rarely troubles me these days and an occasional puff on an inhaler was all I ever took for it. None of these things worked this time. The lab had trouble isolating the pneumonia bug or bugs & the protocol was to treat it with low dose or most-common-bug antibiotics first, and only use the strongest, most expensive, and widest spectrum one last. I was told this was because of the need to help prevent the spread of superbugs?

              Even then, I needed to go back on the echinacea afterwards for a couple of weeks before I got rid of it.

  4. Pickled Possum

     /  22nd November 2016

    “Before the advent of modern, conventional medicine, the world over used natural substances – spices, foods, herbs – to prevent and reverse disease. In fact, so important and valued were these that they were sometimes traded for their weight in gold. Now we know that the ancients were not as “primitive, superstitious, or pre-scientific,” as widely believed, we can appreciate science that honours their wisdom. In fact, it was their use of these substances that enabled them to survive thousands of years without modern medicine, and it is the use of these substances that will now allow us to survive modern medicine itself, which has become a primary cause of death.”
    Sayer Ji writes and that is one bit of history you cannot rewrite.
    http://wakeup-world.com/2016/11/21/popular-kitchen-remedy-puts-antibiotic-to-shame-research-reveals/

    Reply
    • PDB

       /  22nd November 2016

      Probably explains why before ‘conventional medicine’ the life expectancy of an adult was only around 40 odd years old………KFC uses ‘herbs and spices’ – not that good for you I’m told.

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  22nd November 2016

        The life expectancy can be misleading-many people in the past did live to a reasonably old age.But the higher infant/child mortality makes the average seem low.

        Yes, some herbs are excellent medicines-I know that digitalis,garlic, aloe vera, teatree and willowbark aren’t ‘herbs’ as such, but they’re natural. But natural isn’t always good, deadly nightshade and datura are natural and so are the apricot kernels that Milan Brych recommended,

        If I had pneumonia again, I wouldn’t want to rely on a few cloves of garlic to cure me.

        Slight tangent-sucking cloves will help toothache-I remember having a really bad one that no painkillers would help, and remembering this old remedy in the middle of the night. The cloves we had were very old, but they still worked !!! It doesn’t work when there’s a bad abcess which goes ‘beyond cloves’. But as an emergency treatment for ordinary toothache, a mouthful of cloves is excellent.

        A clean cobweb will stop bleeding-I have done this many times when a cut wouldn’t stop bleeding. Not that my immaculate house has cobwebs, coff coff. It needs to be a reasonable size.

        Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  22nd November 2016

          If you need any cobwebs send me a self-addressed envelope and I’ll send you a few dozen. Our place is spider heaven. We’ve been away a week and they’re everywhere again. On the other hand they deal to the flies and some of the mozzies and sandflies so there’s a bit of symbiotic tolerance involved.

          Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  22nd November 2016

            Yes, honesty compels me to admit that there are (ahem) one or two here. I bought a cobweb broom-what an investment. $5 well spent. It looks like a little chimney brush in gaudy colours and, unlike long dusters, it is easy to clean the cobwebs off. Every house should have one of these handy items.

            Reply
            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  22nd November 2016

              Yes, the brooms are good until our holiday house guests stand them upside down so their spherical bristle head gets mashed into a thin cylinder. It’s amazing how innovative and efficient people are at wrecking things.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  22nd November 2016

              I hang mine on a hook & it’s still like new. I gave a friend one; I hope that hers isn’t standing on its head. Her house is really bad for some reason-Miss Havisham would feel at home there when it hasn’t been ‘done’.

              I suppose that we’ve all tried hosing them off and ended up with a disgusting mess of cobwebs all stuck together and superglued to the house.

        • patupaiarehe

           /  22nd November 2016

          Yup Kitty, cloves are a great help if one has to wait a day or two for a dental appointment. What is a really good treatment for flu is high dose Vitamin C. Start it at the first ‘tickle’ in your throat, and a ‘flu’ becomes an irritation, rather than something that leaves you bedridden for days. It will give you the shits tho’, if you overdo it….

          Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  22nd November 2016

            The first time I tried cloves as a last resort was a revelation; I am an appalling coward about dentists, so always put it off as long as possible. The pain was terrible, I couldn’t sleep for it-then I remembered the supposed cure.It was virtually instant and worth the disgusting taste.

            Vitamin C can’t be stored in the body, so taking large quantities is pointless. I’d rather rely on the vaccine. Flu affects the muscles, so Vitamin C wouldn’t be much help there. it was a shock to read how many people try to exercise and sweat the flu out of their system and die of heart failure because they don’t realise that the heart is a muscle-it somehow doesn’t seem like one.

            One of my worst EVER dentist visits was when I had to go to the emergency dentist and discovered that he was still using a foor drill !!! It must have been a museum piece. My mind has blocked out what came after this hideous discovery, it must have been so traumatic that my mind kindly blotted out the memory.

            The last time I had the flu, years ago, I had a glass of water by the bed. I woke up, had a few sips, went back to sleep, woke up and had a few more, wondering vaguely how so much had gone from the glass. Then I woke again and saw the Siamese drinking from it.

            Reply
            • patupaiarehe

               /  22nd November 2016

              Vitamin C can’t be stored in the body, so taking large quantities is pointless. I’d rather rely on the vaccine.

              Yes Kitty, which is why you take a high dose every two hours! I can get the vaccine free, but wouldn’t have it if you paid me to.

            • patupaiarehe

               /  22nd November 2016

              And no, I’m not a big fan of dental work myself. But I have realized over time, that the longer you delay it, the worse it is when you finally get there. I could tell you a story about a very unpleasant experience I had, due to delaying the inevitable, but I wouldn’t want to put you off your supper 😉

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  22nd November 2016

              The odd thing is the way that the pain so often ceases as soon as one walks in the dentist’s door. I was once in agony from an abcess-and the pain ebbed on the way down and had virtually stopped when I walked in. It came back, alas.

              Remember the old Murder House and when the last victim had come back to the classroom, everyone would hope and hope that they weren’t going to be the next one ? The horror of hearing the name ‘Kitty Catkin’….nooooooooo !

            • patupaiarehe

               /  22nd November 2016

              Yup LOL, remember the ‘Murder House’ well from my primary school days 😀 . Can’t say my pain ceased when I walked thru the door of the emergency dentist at 9pm, to get my infected molar pulled (both halves of it). Cost me $300 (ten years ago), but I would have paid that just for the injection! The bugger pumped enough anaesthetic into my face to tranquilize a horse, then took two hours to pull all the bits out. I looked like I had had a stroke until about midday, the day after…

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  22nd November 2016

              The horror of hearing that one was the next victim-there was nothing like it. I am sure that many of us were traumatised for life by the Murder House. What a way to make a living.

              I have known many people who find that the pain stops at the dentist’s door, nobody can understand this. Maybe the terror drives the pain away-adrenalin is very powerful.

              Don’t you hate trying to have a drink afterwards and not being able to find your mouth ? The water dribbling in all directions as you try to get enough in to wash a pill down….

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  22nd November 2016

              I’ve taken the flu vaccine for years ever since my wife did child care work and got everything going until we started taking it. Works like a charm. Just get the occasional cold now.

              As for dentists, find a good one and stick with him/her and regular check ups. My teeth were crap until I did that. The hygienist is much worse than the dentist these days. A good dentist should not give you any pain now.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  22nd November 2016

              I was so traumatised by the Murder House that I am still terrified of the dentist.

              Flu vaccines are a wonderful thing. I have had flu once since I have been having them, but it was a severe one-I forget which one, but it was one of the international ones. Once in 20 years isn’t bad !

            • patupaiarehe

               /  22nd November 2016

              Or trying to have a ciggy, and it keeps falling out of your mouth! I remember a workmate of mine (who enjoyed his drink), telling me about getting two teeth pulled, then walking out of the dentist after, and realizing he had the rest of the day off. So he went to the pub, and ordered a double of whisky straight. Even a strong anaesthetic has it’s limits… 😀

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  22nd November 2016

              Trying to eat when you finally feel like it…posting tiny bits of scrambled egg in, so that it goes cold and you don’t want it. I can’t remember the falling ciggy thing. When I had the abcess, I had a vanilla milkshake because it hurt to eat-I hadn’t had one for years. The novelty wore off very quickly, though.

              Trying to have a coffee is an interesting experience 😀

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  22nd November 2016

              Did he pour most of it down his chin ? 😀

            • patupaiarehe

               /  22nd November 2016

              LOL, my Ataahua Wahine had a root canal a few months ago. She got home looking quite unimpressed about life in general, so I made her a cup of tea. She sat down to drink it, had a sip, and remarked how strange it felt that one side of her mouth was hot, and the other half felt like it wasn’t there. Took another sip, then yelled, because she had just scalded her tit 😀

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  22nd November 2016

              Sadist.

            • patupaiarehe

               /  22nd November 2016

              No Kitty, he reckons he spat it over the bar, then ran to the nearest tap to wash his mouth out 😀

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  22nd November 2016

              Did it taste vile because of the dentist’s mouthwash etc ? Blechhh.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  22nd November 2016

              As for the Murder House, my mother trained as a dental nurse but gave it up almost immediately because she couldn’t bear to give children so much pain. Drilling without anaesthetics and before fluoride treatments was frequent torture.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  22nd November 2016

              (faints)

            • patupaiarehe

               /  22nd November 2016

              @Kitty No, he said it felt like someone had poured acid into the holes where his teeth were

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  23rd November 2016

              (faints) How dreadful. Poor man ! He could be forgiven for spitting it out under the circs, anyone would do the same.

              Do you know Ogden Nash’s poem about the dentist-This Is Going To Hurt Just a Little Bit. ?

              It has the classic lines

              Because some tortures are physical and some are mental,
              But the one that is both is dental.

            • patupaiarehe

               /  23rd November 2016

              Can’t say I do Kitty, but those few lines alone, suggest he had an experience similar to mine

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  24th November 2016

              Do, do, look it up. I would imagine that it’s online. I have it in a book and it falls open at that one 😀

            • patupaiarehe

               /  24th November 2016

              This Is Going To Hurt Just A Little Bit

              One thing I like less than most things is sitting in a dentist chair with my mouth wide open.

              And that I will never have to do it again is a hope that I am against hope hopen.

              Because some tortures are physical and some are mental,

              But the one that is both is dental.

              It is hard to be self-possessed

              With your jaw digging into your chest.

              So hard to retain your calm

              When your fingernails are making serious alterations in your life line or love line or some other important line in your palm;

              So hard to give your usual effect of cheery benignity

              When you know your position is one of the two or three in life most lacking in dignity.

              And your mouth is like a section of road that is being worked on.

              And it is all cluttered up with stone crushers and concrete mixers and drills and steam rollers and there isn’t a nerve in your head thatyou aren’t being irked on.

              Oh, some people are unfortunate enough to be strung up by thumbs.

              And others have things done to their gums,

              And your teeth are supposed to be being polished,

              But you have reason to believe they are being demolished.

              And the circumstance that adds most to your terror

              Is that it’s all done with a mirror,

              Because the dentist may be a bear, or as the Romans used to say, only they were referring to a feminine bear when they said it, an ursa,

              But all the same how can you be sure when he takes his crowbar in one hand and mirror in the other he won’t get mixed up, the way you do when you try to tie a bow tie with the aid of a mirror, and forget that left is right and vice versa?

              And then at last he says That will be all; but it isn’t because he then coats your mouth from cellar to roof

              With something that I suspect is generally used to put a shine on a horse’s hoof.

              And you totter to your feet and think. Well it’s all over now and afterall it was only this once.

              And he says come back in three monce.

              And this, O Fate, is I think the most vicious circle that thou ever sentest,

              That Man has to go continually to the dentist to keep his teeth in good condition

              when the chief reason he wants his teeth in good condition

              is so that he won’t have to go to the dentist.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  25th November 2016

              That’s the one !!!

              Why-why-why did he have to say that about the mirror ? Thank you, Mr Nash, I hadn’t thought of that before.

              It’s a pity that the indentations never seem to work online, I no longer bother.

              You should see that page in the book-it’s been read more than all the others put together, excellent poems as they are.

            • patupaiarehe

               /  25th November 2016

              I can certainly identify with the challenges of ‘mirror vision’. I had to weld in a very tight spot once using one, and lets just say it wasn’t my best work 😉

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  26th November 2016

              I can well imagine. If only mirrors didn’t reverse everything, it would make life much easier.

              I once knew someone who had fiendishly removed the lenses from some old sunglasses, replaced them with cardboard and put two of those little peephole wossnames that people put in doors to see who’s there. You cannot imagine what the world looks like through these*-I can’t describe it. They used to make people walk downstairs with them on…

              * worse than the vision seen in a bullseye mirror, as everything is curved and distorted

        • Corky

           /  22nd November 2016

          ”If I had pneumonia again, I wouldn’t want to rely on a few cloves of garlic to cure me.”

          Of course you wouldn’t You would want the best medicine in the world for that condition… Black Seed Oil. Two things: don’t tell me you have heard of that before. And don’t quote Muhammad( Allah’s messenger).

          Reply

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