Antibiotic Resistance: Global Threat

By PSU EcoMerge Capstone - 10:57 AM

It is common to think that the actions that we do not affect anyone. The long breaks at work or slight tampering of numbers on taxes forms do not really affect anyone right? If found in these small deception who are we really putting out, and does it really affect them?  A few years back I was introduced to an interesting idea in a philosophy class called the tragedy of the commons.
                In the far past the land that was owned was not necessarily held by an individual but shared by all. Think of it as a community space and in this way individuals were allowed to take wood for fuel and graze animals in this shared space. To regulate this space it was determined that each person could graze a certain number of sheep on this space before it reached its tipping point and started to be overgrazed.  
                This community for many years held the equilibrium and enjoyed the peace that it brought. In this time of piece though one man thought to himself “one more sheep, what does it hurt no one will know.”  The irony is that not just he thought this but all of his neighbors as well. Next thing you know too many sheep were on the shared land and consumed all the grass leading to a destruction of land that no farmer could fix.
                This story is not shared as a recap of early British feudalism but to bring into full realization the harm that abuses of antibiotics have done. While the single action of one person, or one family, or one community, or one state, or one country may not have that much effect on the climate of how our shared world operates but combined these actions have begun to jeopardize the safety of all of us.
                Looking specifically at the continual abuse of antibiotics as a cure all even for things that are outside of the scope of its function it has changed the climate as a whole in the world that we operate in. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) the largest operator in the field of all things disease or infection related, is starting to put our information to warn people about new strains of bacteria that are now resistant to medications including antibiotics that are normally a cure for bacterial infections.
                “Traditionally Bacteria are not resistant to bacteria, but bacteria multiply by the billions. Some of these mutations make bacterium resistant to bacteria (when antibiotics are used to fight an infection, only antibiotic bacterium will survive) antibiotic resistant bacteria multiply and thrive.More ” As we the individuals and members of our shared global community, misuse antibiotics it allows antibiotic bacteria to come into existence and grow. These bacteria once curable are now growing and sharing genes that once shared with other bacteria can pass their immunities between each other. “In addition to spreading among patients, often on the hands of health care personnel, CRE bacteria can transfer their resistance to other bacteria within their family.More
                The bacteria created in one town or one hospital can make their way to affect other hospitals or individuals. The CDC has created this Study to track the spread of “…one type of CRE from a single health care facility to health care facilities in at least 42 states” over the last decade. More here   It has traveled through hospitals preying on sick individuals making them sicker. This would be ok if not for the fact that “during just the first half of 2012, almost 200 hospitals and long-term acute care facilities treated at least one patient infected with these bacteria.” This combined with the fact that “the bacteria, Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), kill up to half of patients who get bloodstream infections from them.” This is just one example of bacteria that is present and changing. There are quite possibly other strains that are developing that have yet to be discovered because they are not yet affecting people or are not yet identified.
               The present reality is somewhat similar to the example of the tragedy of the commons. By each person acting in their own self-interest and exploiting antibiotics in situations where they are not needed these bacteria mutations have continually grown and now compromise the safety of the whole. In this way the actions of the few can go to impact the quality of life for the whole. With these changes occurring this situation is now a global issue. 

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