More on bacterial resistance

by wonderfullyrich on June 7, 2008

I just read a passaged that describes how a human body can become the niche that will develop anti-bacterial resistants bacteria.  The book is Mountains beyond Mountains written by Tracy Kidder concerning the life and passion of Dr. Paul Farmer who set about to improve the Haitian condition using anthropology and modern medicine. I highly recommend the book, as it’s a quick read and fascinating to cover such a disaster of foreign policy (Haiti) being changed by a man who is single minded and devoted, but very human and innovative.  I am still considering a post on how the average joe can change Washington, all it takes is patience and time and Kidder unintentionally speaks to it.

I digress however, back to the passage that provoked this:

A person with active TB of the lungs harbors hundreds of millions of bacteria, enough to ensure that a small number will be mutants impervious to anti-TB drugs.  In a patient who gets only one antibiotic or inadequate does of several, or who takes the medicines erratically or for two short a time, the drug-susceptible bacilli may die off while the drug-resistant mutants flourish.  The patient becomes a site of rapid bacterial evolution, with drugs supplying the selective pressure.  In the gravest cases, patients end up infected with bacilli that can’t be killed by teh two most powerful [TB] drugs.  Medical science reserves a special name for tuberculosis of that sort–multdrug-resistant TB, MDR by abbreviation.  It is a scary disease, and a serous problem wherever it appears, but worst, of course in the places with the fewest resources to deal with it.

So kids, take your antibiotics in full and regularly.  We don’t want you to be the host of a superbug.

And wash your hands, but not with anti-microbial soap.

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