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Antibiotics Breed New Antibiotic-Resistant Strains

There is a phenomenon in cultures known as the “swinging pendulum.” It goes like this: There is a cultural problem. A solution, (or apparent solution) is discovered or invented to solve the problem. If the solution appears to work an institution is built with the purpose of forwarding that solution. But often the solution (like a swinging pendulum) can “go too far,” at which point the solution becomes a new problem.

A modern example of the “swinging pendulum” phenomenon is antibiotics. In 1928 penicillin offered the world a solution to many bacterial illnesses such as tuberculosis, bacterial pneumonia, syphilis, gonorrhea and other bacterial infections.

Today, antibiotics are not effective on many of the illnesses that they once were, and, in fact their “overuse” has caused more problems.

Dr. Sherwin Nuland in his best-selling book, “How We Die” states: “Medicine’s purported triumph over infectious disease has become an illusion.”

Bacteria are living organisms that, like all organisms, seek to find a way to survive.

Scientists have discovered that bacteria, when exposed to antibiotics procreate mutants which are then capable of fending off the drugs. Worse than that, research suggests that some bacteria are so smart they become resistant to antibiotics they never even met. The end result is, despite the 100-plus antibiotics on the market today, infectious disease is winning and we are in some ways in worse shape than before antibiotics were discovered.

How did the American culture get into this bind? Over-prescription.

Medical doctors, in their eagerness to finish off the old diseases have given them new life. They prescribe antibiotics for viral infections, like colds or sore throats, that antibiotics cannot touch; every dose of antibiotics makes it that much easier for resistance to spread.

But there is another group who uses antibiotics even more, and that is the American farmer. Farm animals receive 30 times more antibiotics than people do. Resistant bacterial strains emerge in animals just as they do in humans taking antibiotics – and remain in the animal’s flesh even after it winds up in your refrigerator.

There are super bugs that spread from animals to people that are now resistant to antibiotics. These can appear in under-cooked meat, or even in milk which can cause untold health problems and even death in people.

The first step in solving the antibiotic problem is to stop the swinging pendulum. Doctors must stop prescribing antibiotics where they are unnecessary, or cannot work. Farmers must find ways to keep their animals healthy without antibiotics. There are farmers who do raise cattle, chickens and other animals without antibiotics. You can check your local area to see which stores sell such meats and poultry or dairy products.

Most of all, people must stop requesting antibiotics from their medical doctors where it is not proven that the antibiotic is a solution for their illness.

SOURCE: As reported in Newsweek, March 28, 1994.