Just because Big Pharma can’t make big money from the potential solutions is not a reason for further delay. Action Alert!
Antibiotic-resistant illnesses currently kill an estimated 700,000 people a year globally. By 2050, these illnesses are expected to kill 10 million people. Based on recent research, it could be even worse—and coming even sooner.
We have had a taste of this over the winter, with an especially nasty Avian (or Type A) influenza bug hitting people, and in some cases being followed by secondary bacterial infection such as bronchitis or pneumonia. From what we hear, many of the people infected by the virus had the flu shot—which may have been more on target than last year, but which is never very protective, as we have pointed out before, and still contains mercury. Fortunately in most cases antibiotics still work against the secondary bacterial infections, which could otherwise be life-threatening.
That bacterial infections are becoming resistant to antibiotics is not exactly news. But a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now details the rise of a dangerous new superbug that scientists are calling the “phantom menace.” Separately, scientists recently announced the discovery of another deadly superbug in Chinese pigs.
The bug that is referenced in the CDC report is from the same family of bacteria that are infecting colonoscopes and endoscopes. In previous coverage we noted that in the past few years alone there have been four major Carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae (CRE) outbreaks in US hospitals, killing dozens and sickening even more. We noted at the time that CRE is often completely untreatable by antibiotics and has a mortality rate of 40% or more.
This new strand of CRE could be even more dangerous. Many bacteria become resistant to antibiotics by evolving their own genome in ways that deactivate antibiotics. This resistance cannot be shared outside that bacterium’s biological family. But this new superbug is resistant because it carries a plasmid (a small circular DNA strand in the cytoplasm of a bacterium or protozoan) containing the DNA to break down antibiotics, and this plasmid can be transferred to normal bacteria that are already present in our bodies. This shortcut allows bacteria to develop antibiotic resistance without having to obtain it through evolution.
Because this new form of CRE is not as resistant as other forms of CRE, it went unnoticed by the medical community, leading scientists and researchers to dub it the “phantom menace.” The CDC has confirmed forty-three cases in the past five years of this particular strain of CRE, but scientists think that this is just the tip of the iceberg. The new strain of the resistant bacteria is difficult to detect using the standard test for CRE, so there could be many more cases than are currently reported.
This news coincides with a paper recently published in The Lancet describing a new strain of e. coli in Chinese pigs that has evolved to withstand colistin, a powerful antibiotic that is considered to be a last resort treatment for antibiotic-resistance diseases. Keep in mind that as more and more powerful antibiotics are developed in response to resistance, even if they work, they often bring serious side effects of their own.
Like the new strain of CRE, the colistin-resistant gene is easily transferable between bacterial species, and the authors of the paper warn that this superbug is likely to go global. Bacteria with the same resistance gene have already been found in Denmark.
Let’s also not forget that drug-resistant forms of tuberculosis (TB) are also spreading, with health experts saying that this bacterium is “virtually untreatable” and one of our “most significant global threats.” About one-third of the world’s population carry latent TB, and about 10% of these carriers will become sick.
So what has the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) done about this? Little or nothing. We know that one major source of antibiotic resistance is the misuse and overuse of antibiotic drugs on factory farms, where animals are routinely fed drugs to prevent the spread of disease amidst the squalid conditions that often prevail in CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations). In 2013 the FDA released a set of voluntary guidelines to try to curb this practice, but recent progress reports show how ineffective this has been. The sale and use of antibiotics for animals actually increased by 4% between 2013 and 2014. Animals also received more drugs important for human medicine, with those sales up 3% between 2013 and 2014.
Clearly a lot more needs to be done if we want to avoid the “post-antibiotic era” that the World Health Organization warns about. Most importantly, the FDA needs to reconsider its stance towards natural health alternatives like vitamin D to stay healthy; grapefruit seed extract and other herbs to fight bacterial illnesses; and silver, high-dose vitamin A, intravenous and lipospheric C, and olive leaf extract to fight viral and bacterial illness. It is very difficult, for example—perhaps impossible—for bacteria to become resistant to silver. It is safe enough to be commonly used to purify water in developing countries. It is approved by the EPA for use in consumer products as a sanitizing agent! If medical authorities think it is safe enough for people to drink routinely in their water and to use as a sanitizing agent, why does the FDA oppose its use in medicine? Presumably because it isn’t patentable and therefore won’t make big money for Big Pharma, the FDA’s partner and the source of its funding. The agency doesn’t even approve its use in hospitals! Must millions die because of this corruption?
Check out our new video, Rise of the Phantom Menace.
Action Alert! Write to the FDA and urge them to do more to combat antibiotic resistance and to approve the use of alternative remedies such as silver. Please send your message immediately.