Antibiotics: Afraid it’s still not getting better

Sorry readers, but the old problem of microbial resistance to antibiotics just isn’t going away. As it’s popped up four times in the news this week, we’d thought we’d give you a summary outside of the bounds of our weekly roundup, and suggest at least one thing you could do to help.

Sky News got the ball rolling with this piece on Monday. [1] OK, it’s UK-centric, but the same deadly pattern applies everywhere. dear readers. The stone in the shoe is simple: the bad news is up, again. If you want some base line figures to convince people in the pub/school/supermarket, this is a good jumping-off place.

The squandering of antibiotics in lazy farming practices would be bad enough. But now the antibiotics from farms are leaking into the water table, massively increasing the chances of resistance appearing in nature. This piece by Adam Vaughn for the Times looks at studies in rivers in Britain. But once again the chances are it could be a river near you. [2]

Asking people to do it less has been a preoccupation of religious fundamentalists, educationalists, malthusians and party hosts for centuries. We never dreamed that we, as a kind of sciencey, rationalist style blog would join them. But what if they don’t do it less? Once answer is to hand out massive morning after doses of antibiotics. With the grim potential consequences which Nature Briefings makes clear: Concern over Preventive Antibiotics for STIs

A health department in the United States has become one of the first to recommend that people who are at high risk of getting a sexually transmitted infection (STI) take a preventive dose of antibiotics after unprotected sex. Clinical trials have shown the strategy can reduce infections such as chlamydia, syphilis and gonorrhoea. But some researchers worry it will contribute to antibiotic resistance. Researchers say guidelines about use are important for informing people about the safety of a strategy they might already be using. “People should have access to this tool, if it makes sense for them and their lifestyle,” says sexual-health physician Jenell Stewart.Nature | 6 min read

The reason we bang on about all this is made clear by a second piece from Nature Briefings Bacterial Infections the Second Biggest Killer Globally. That’ s even more than Vladimir Putin‘s wildest dreams! Well, the headline says it all, but just in case, here’s the text. And plenty of references for you to click on in your coffee break.

Bacterial infections were associated with close to 8 million deaths in 2019, making them the second biggest killer globally after coronary heart disease. Death rates differed widely by region, from 230 deaths per 100,000 people in sub-Saharan Africa to 52 deaths per 100,000 across western Europe, North America and Australasia. “These new data for the first time reveal the full extent of the global public health challenge posed by bacterial infections,” says study co-author Christopher Murray.AFP | 3 min read
Reference: The Lancet paper

Well, some decent people are refusing to let all this go. In the UK we have a charity called Antibiotics research UK who try to fund new research raise awareness and try to do all the things they can to stem the tide. But they’re small, and they need money. They have lots of international connections, so if anyone can donate, you’re helping your own country too. Go on, have a bang on this one, mate, [3] to paraphrase the actor Ray Winstone. In the long run, it’s a much better bet than a World Cup match.

With thanks to Mr John Read of Henley-on-Thames for the first two parts to this story




#antibiotics #microbial resistance #superbugs #vladimir putin #world cup

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