The Bacterial Menace That May Kill Millions

the-bacterial-menace-that-may-kill-millions_300Antibiotic-resistant bacteria represent a growing health danger. If you have a bacterial infection that is incurable with antibiotics, conventional medicine can’t do much to clear it up. And in an alarming development, researchers are discovering antibiotic resistance is spreading and is now found in unexpected places.

Studies show that this nasty bacterial trait is now widespread in children and wildlife.

These developments represent “an indicator of the wide-reaching scale of the problem. Microbes connect the planet,” Lance Price, a professor of environmental and occupational health at George Washington University told Environmental Health News. “The danger is that we enter a post-antibiotic era in which even our last-line drugs won’t work and routine infections become life-threatening,” he said.

In research at Tufts University, Julie Ellis, who is with Tufts’ veterinary school, found that the resistant bacteria are now living in crows.

“We’ve documented human-derived drug resistance where it shouldn’t be — in wildlife and the environment. But we know very little about how this may impact public health. There just isn’t that smoking gun,” says Ellis.

Furthermore, studies of the probiotic bacteria in children’s digestive tracts reveal that antibiotic resistance is common there also.

“From birth to age 5, children receive more antibiotics than during any other five-year time span in their lives,” says researcher Gautam Dantas at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. “Frequent exposure to antibiotics accelerates the spread of antibiotic resistance. Our research highlights how important it is to only use these drugs when they are truly needed.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that antibiotic-resistant infections cause at least 2 million illnesses and 23,000 deaths annually in the U.S., adding $20 billion in healthcare costs.

Primary causes of the spread of these bacteria are the overuse of prescribed antibiotics and the use of antibiotics to make livestock grow fatter.

Carl Lowe

By Carl Lowe

has written about health, fitness and nutrition for a wide range of publications including Prevention Magazine, Self Magazine and Time-Life Books. The author of more than a dozen books, he has been gluten-free since 2007.