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Medical New Superbug

  1. Nov 8, 2007 #1
    I'm sure most of you have seen this already but it seems we have a new superbug on our hands, a substrain of streptococcus pneumoniae called 19A. Here is a link for anyone interested.

    http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20071107/superbug_071107/20071107?hub=TopStories

    It is occuring in childern and showing resistance to all of the antibiotics approved for use in children forcing physicians to use antibiotics only approved for use in adults. This is pretty scary stuff, and a big part of it is due to the inappropriate use of antibiotics in the first place. Doctor's seem to prescribe penicillin and other drugs like they are candy without first bothering to look deeply into the causes, most sore throats for example tend to be causes by viruses yet most of the time you will just be given a prescription for an antibiotic which of course will do you no good.

    On another note I just learned that the flu shots people have been getting are now less effective because the virus has already mutated. Interesting stuff.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 8, 2007 #2
    It will always be like this. Bactaria and viruses will always mutate and we will have to adapt.
     
  4. Nov 8, 2007 #3
    Of course they will but that doesn't mean we have to help them do it. I just find it interesting how they do, it is pretty cool stuff.
     
  5. Nov 8, 2007 #4

    turbo

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    Except when they adapt so fast that we cannot slow them down and they remain contagious enough to cause a pandemic. Some of us will survive.
     
  6. Nov 8, 2007 #5
    Yea I agree, we for sure created conditions for them to mutate, irresponsibility at that. I'm not sure at this point whether wide spread use of anti-biotics was pushed by pharmaceutical companies, good intentions or simply lack of knowledge? I think the former is more likely than the latter.
     
  7. Nov 9, 2007 #6

    Moonbear

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    This is a challenge for physicians dealing with a patient population lacking in sufficient basic knowledge about differences between viruses and bacteria. There are huge swaths of the population who expect that physicians are miracle workers...if they go in sick, they expect to be handed something to make them better, and feel like they've wasted their money if they go to a doctor and are just told to take an over-the-counter cold remedy to treat symptoms until they get over a virus on their own in a few days (not realizing the point of going to the doctor is to rule out that they have something more serious that does require treatment). And, when the waiting room is overflowing with patients who all have the flu, it's hard to take sufficient time to educate them one-by-one that there is nothing to be done for it but wait a few more days until it goes away on its own.

    Keep in mind it is not only about inappropriate prescribing, but also due to those people who do not follow the instructions with their prescription completely when they DO have a bacterial infection that requires an antibiotic, and this is even more of a contributor to development of these "superbugs." When someone stops taking an antibiotic as soon as they feel better rather than following the full course, it gives the surviving bacteria a chance to "recover" and for mutations to proliferate rapidly due to the way bacteria can swap plasmids. An antibiotic given to someone who does not have a bacterial infection will not have any effect on a bacteria not present (but could affect bacteria that are non-pathological).

    Actually, the effectiveness of flu shots varies year by year. The vaccine each year is formulated months in advance based on an educated guess about which strains of flu will hit in that year, because it takes that long to produce it, so they can't wait until they know precisely which strain will hit. Some years they get it completely right, and other years they completely miss. Most years, they get the major strains, but another unexpected strain also appears. The vaccine can usually provide some limited protection against other strains, but not always. And, yes, strains will also mutate, which will render a vaccine less effective. Most of the time, that means you'll still get the flu, but might not get it quite as severely as if you didn't have the vaccine at all.
     
  8. Nov 9, 2007 #7

    jim mcnamara

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    If you are actually interested in how human pathogens and humans interact and evolve try
    Paul Ewald's 'Evolution of Infectious Disease'
     
  9. Nov 9, 2007 #8
    Very true Moonbear, I can't even count how many people I have talked to how have admitted to quitting taking their prescription when they feel better. I usually tell them why they shouldn't do that but they usually don't believe me anyway.
     
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