Doctors all over the globe are under immense pressure to get fast cures to diseases ranging from a boil on the face to fevers with shivers and stomach-flu with dehydration. Though medical textbooks advise a slow and patient route to curing most diseases and the sparse use of antibiotics, doctors are forced daily to prescribe them for trivial diseases. The diseases I mentioned above are often caused by the infamous staphylococcus groups of organisms. MSNBC reports the death of a student from a suspected staphylococcus pandemic in the US and the Hawaiian islands. The alarming thing is that ordinary staphylococcus infections are no longer responding to standard antibiotic therapy. Hence, the renewed interest worldwide in the so-called superbug phenomenon amongst not only the doctors, but also researchers who have to understand and fight these pathogens. But this battle cannot be won unless the non-medical public too fights these bacteria.
What are these superbugs and how are they affecting human populations all over the globe? These are the questions we need to answer. Darwin had long ago proved how any organism changes to adapt with the changing environment. This it does to survive. So, when antibiotics were first used during the Second World War, the bacteria died fast. With the frequent use of those First generation penicillin drugs, the bacteria underwent genetic changes, which allowed it to survive that first-generation antibiotic. So now, researchers had to find newer and more potent drugs to combat the new resistant bacteria. Like this ultimately, second generation and third generation drugs were found and applied to cure common diseases like fever and E.coli stomach diseases. Ultimately, with a dawning sense of horror, doctors suddenly found that even third generation antibiotics were no longer affecting the different bacteria they were meant to eradicate. The bugs had turned superbugs. Nothing can now stop them from killing people for we simply have no poison strong enough for them.
AIDS as a disease kills people by making them totally without immunity so every kind of infection can attack a person. But, AIDS will not happen unless a person has sexual contact with an AIDS host or receives blood transfusion from a diseased person. But, we all can catch superbug-infections anytime, anywhere. We cannot help breathe, we cannot help but eat food, drink water and the drug resistant bacteria are now everywhere. The developing world reports resurgence in such deadly disease as smallpox and polio. Drug-resistant tuberculosis has been reported by pulmunologists worldwide. They are in fact going to hold a world conference on drug resistant bacteria in South Africa next month. Leprosy, the scourge of the tropics, is back this time without any care for drugs known to us. And even the drugs which show some hope in fighting these superbugs have serious and often deadly side-effects. Previously it was enough to use amoxycillin to combat drug-resistant staphylococcus but now clinical experience shows the need to add clavulanic acid to amoxycillin to make it fight known drug resistant bacteria. Clavulanic acid often causes severe colitis even in normal people with no history of chronic intestinal diseases. As I write this article, bacteria are mutating and defeating our known weaponry of anti-biotic. The best way to combat this is to take antibiotics under prescription and that too letting the doctor decide whether you ought to suffer temporarily a bit more and not to go telling her or him that tomorrow you need to be up and running for your new venture. You may not survive your simple fever the next time it happens to you. This is why the World Health Organization and the Federal Drug Authority in the US are apprehensive of a worldwide superbug epidemic of proportions much huger and deadlier than the AIDS epidemic. May be we should pay heed to the old adage that often nature should run its course and let minor disease just be.