The Phantom Menace bacteria, Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), is spreading and our society is running out of antibiotics. Does everyone realize how bad this is? (Melissa Brower/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention via AP)
Welcome to the future…a bad future. In September 2016, a female in her 70’s died from an infection caused by carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), bacteria that was resistant to all available antibiotics. Yes, resistant to all available antibiotics. Yes, doctors could do nothing to stop her infection. Yes, a bad infection from such bacteria can kill you no matter how rich or famous you are, what apps you have on your phone or social media sites you frequent, what kind of walls you build, how many nuclear weapons you have, or how many other medications, procedures, herbs, supplements, chiropractic adjustments, face lifts, cupping sessions, urine drinks, leech treatments, cryotherapy sessions, or massages you get. This is the first appearance in the U.S. of such an uber-resistant bacteria (meaning resistant to all antibiotics and not to drivers and cars for hire.) Yes, more and more will appear in the future. No, this is not trending on Twitter or Facebook. No, this is not getting nearly as much attention as the seemingly science-resistant anti-vaccine talk. Why then aren’t more people taking this seriously and making the urgent changes needed?
Nevada health officials Lei Chen, PhD, Randall Todd, DrPH, and Julia Kiehlbauch, PhD and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officials Maroya Walters, PhD and Alexander Kallen, MD described the case and events in a recent issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) . The woman had broken her right leg during a trip to India, struggled with repeated right hip infections while there, and then after her return to the U.S. was admitted to a hospital in the Reno, Nevada, area on August 18 when her infection had progressed to affect her entire body. The CRE bacteria found to be causing in the infection was resistant to 26 antibiotics, including all aminoglycosides and polymyxins tested. With no effective antibiotics available, she eventually went into septic shock and died.
Consider this latest case yet another warning to society. Scientists and public health officials have been trying to get the attention of policy makers, investors, pharmaceutical companies, and the public. Many public health officials, including CDC Director Tom Frieden, have called CRE the “phantom menace.” Our RHEA computational modeling work published in the American Journal of Epidemiology has shown how CRE will continue to spread more and more throughout hospitals and nursing homes, unless something changes.
Once again, we are losing the war against bacteria. New antibiotic development is just not keeping pace with the emergence of new antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains. Once again, a Pew Charitable Trust report found that too few antibiotics are under development and a majority of antibiotics are being developed by small companies, not big pharmaceutical companies. Many big pharmaceutical companies are just not stepping up to the challenge. Many doctors, dentists, farmers, and animal caretakers continue to overuse antibiotics, leading to more and more antibiotic bacteria. Infections are very, very, very common. You will in all likelihood get an infection that requires antibiotics at some point in your life. What if the next time you get an infection, nothing works against it…and thus out of luck?
Courtesy of www.forbes.com