Drug resistant bacteria, like MRSA, have mean a disaster in the making for the last forty years. Lax attitudes to prescription and administration of antibiotics, their misuse in the food industry globally and now the reluctance of drugs companies to get involved in developing unprofitable replacements places humanity on the brink of a threat that makes zombie movies look tame by comparison.
Reuters has published a series of stories about America’s lax attitude to drug resistant bacteria and it makes scary reading, but even then it fails to deliver the message in strong enough terms.
Without antibiotics we run the risk of dropping back to those pre-penicillin Victorian times, when a scratch or a cut could result in amputation, where major surgery was more likely to be fatal than not and where prayer become a valid treatment for all kinds of infections that today we expect to treat successfully, even contemptuously.
There are now no antibiotics which are guaranteed to treat any strain of infection. The drug of last resort having been breached as a result of its use in farming in China.
And whereas in Victorian times the ability of the populace to travel was limited, today we can move infections across the world at close to the speed of sound, reaching all points of the compass in just a matter of hours.
WHO, the EU and the CDC have all warned of the risks of global, untreatable infections, yet it seems that governments are unable to put together a coordinated response that will bring new drugs to market that provide that much needed safety net.
Scary stuff. Especially if you are a parent.