Superbug Blues: Antibiotic Resistance

Your body is an armored fortress… …brimming with destructive power! Your Immune System works night and day, telling friend from foe, and protecting you from nanoscopic ne’er-do-wells. …like viruses and fungi! *sigh* Among others. Hello, everyone! I’m S. Aureus. I’m a bacteria. I cause pneumonia… …meningitis… …endocarditis… …food poisoning… …and PIMPLES. Oh boy. Once inside the body, this little germ will replicate and eventually cause some kind of sickness. And what better way to combat a sickness than with antibiotics? Joe Schmoe sure thinks so. He’s just been given his regular prescription of penicillin. Hey, Schmoe! Wouldn’t you like to know what happens when you take some of that? Inside your body, the antibiotics do their job, and do it well. And if they did it very well, you’d be totally unharmed! However, some of these bacteria make it out alive, thanks to a random mutation that resists the antibiotic. If, for example, antibiotics are overused or prescriptions are left unfinished, these resistant bacteria are allowed to replicate once again, potentially creating an entirely antibiotic-resistant strain: The SUPERBUG! But you figure this phenomenon doesn’t mean anything to you, right? THINK AGAIN! For example: Nearly 80% of antibiotics in the United States are fed to livestock! Now E. Coli, a natural resident of cow intestines turned crooked human pathogen, has become totally immune to antibiotics, and now preys on hapless human hosts through meat-borne epidemics! And what about little S. Aureus? Well, thanks to mass antibiotic overuse in hospitals, he’s finally found his nerve! The sterile hospital environment lets him really express himself… …as massively deadly strains like MRSA! And you’ll be eager to hear… …he’s now totally penicillin immune. Worry not, viewer. Antibiotics probably won’t kill you. But antibiotic resistance is a distinctly mass phenomenon, and the more you know about it, the more responsibility you can take! Perhaps the future will open new avenues for bacteria-fighting. Can you say… …phage therapy? This shouldn’t happen to a germ!

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