World Health Organization: No, Seriously, Stop Abusing Antibiotics – James Hamblin – The Atlantic

In the sobering news department:

“The problem is so serious that it threatens the achievements of modern medicine. A post-antibiotic era—in which common infections and minor injuries can kill—far from being an apocalyptic fantasy, is instead a very real possibility for the twenty-first century.”

That’s according to a 257-page warning today from the World Health Organization (WHO) about increasingly unbeatable, pervasive infectious agents. The analysis of 114 countries is the most comprehensive global look at antimicrobial-drug resistance to date, and it found “very high” rates of resistant infections across all regions, including “alarming” rates in many parts of the world.

via World Health Organization: No, Seriously, Stop Abusing Antibiotics – James Hamblin – The Atlantic.

A few years ago I had to have a minor operation on my toe.  Afterward it developed a nasty infection that wouldn’t go away.  After failed treatment from two different courses of antibiotics, they put me on a third one with all kinds of scary side effects.  It gave me severe headaches and I had to be careful not to take it within two hours of the anti-heartburn medication I take every day, and was warned that I could have a tendon blow out for up to six months after finishing it.

I was lucky that the third antibiotic worked since there was essentially nothing to use after it.  The experience brought home to me how real this problem of antibiotic resistance has become.  I already had understood the importance of not asking for antibiotics unless it was really needed, but this made me wonder if antibiotics in general shouldn’t be much more tightly restricted than it already is.

One of the main issues of course is the widespread use of antibiotics in livestock.  As the article mentions, there’s no easy solution to this due to the ever increasing world population and the demands for food.  I’m reminded of something I read many years ago, that the number one problem in the world was over population, and that most of the other problems were details of that first problem.

The gruesome truth is that if we don’t get a grip on these interrelated problems, nature may eventually make a course correction for us, and that would likely be very bad.

3 thoughts on “World Health Organization: No, Seriously, Stop Abusing Antibiotics – James Hamblin – The Atlantic

  1. Worrying stuff. Perhaps resistance to antibiotics in infections is the solution to human overpopulation, and not a problem at all. A heartless view maybe, but I can’t see a painless solution.


    1. That’s sort of what I meant by nature making a correction. Drug resistant bacteria, environmental collapse, and many other things, may eventually just be nature balancing the books in ways we won’t like. World population is projected to eventually level off at around 10 billion, or perhaps more accurately, it’s hoped that it will. But I don’t think anyone really knows how many the planet can sustain over the long haul.


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