Monday, March 20, 2017

The Sound of a War Cry

The time to address the threatening reality of increased antibiotic resistance in our era arrived a long time ago. The time became signified with the increased prevalence of disease sweeping around the world, knocking out vulnerable children and strong athletes alike. The need to address antibiotic resistance became shouted from the roof tops as healthy people began to drop like flies to infections cured so easily a mere twenty years ago. The time arrived with warning signs flashing bright enough for thousands upon thousands to see. However, thousands upon thousands continue to look the other way. With neglectance continuing in our society, the window of action dwindles with greater rapidity. Without working quickly, bacteria will continue to evolve and build further armor that shields them from the wrath of our “powerful” antibiotics. However, the antibiotics we continue to depend on are failing us. According to Nicholas Bagley in his article “We Will Miss Antibiotics When They’re Gone,” staying one step ahead of the numerous and adaptive bacteria “will require ingenuity, money and radical change.” Which means, and I dare say it, that we need to stop pushing the problem of resistance onto future generations and fight with all of our might now.

Major pharmaceutical companies satisfy their pockets by placing higher emphasis on drugs that will garner a higher profit--leaving antibiotic development largely ignored. Without new antibiotics, doctors around the world continue to prescribe antibiotics which no longer possess the effectiveness necessary to eradicate strong-- or even mild-- infections. As a result, the danger looming within hospitals spikes in severity as antibiotic-resistant infections spreads through hospital corridors. Resistant infections within hospitals not only result in a longer and more expensive stay but “common surgeries would start looking like Russian roulette.” In addition, the overuse of old antibiotics only continues to expose bacteria to the same stimulus, allowing select strains to develop resistance and spread it among millions of other colonies. As more colonies receive resistant genes from their neighbors, the amount of effective medicine diminishes even further. The limited amount of effective antibiotics causes the larger numbers of deaths prevalent in recent years. Quick and merciless bacteria acted as a grim reaper to a woman killed by “the bacteria that were resistant to every antibiotic doctors could throw at them,” and will continue to play a similar role in the lives of thousands (if not millions) more.

Members within society need to weigh the outcomes of continuing to pay attention to the blatant warning signs. Does the extra money pharmaceutical companies gain from neglecting antibiotic development or the promise of a quick fix with antibiotics truly outweigh the detrimental effects of our population slowly dying off to bacterial strains that were once controllable? The time for battle arrived with the advent of antibiotic resistance in recent years; and we possess no other option but to fight.

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