|February 2014||A Publication of Seventh Day Home Church Fellowships||Vol 05 - Issue 01|
Drug Resistant Pathogens
by: Raquel Akens
ON January 6, 2014 news rang out from Chicago of the largest outbreak of CRE (a very dangerous antibiotic-resistant bacteria). Forty-four cases of CRE were discovered in northeastern Illinois, linking them to endoscopic procedures done in a general hospital in the area. This is a big number when compared to the total of 96 cases reported in the U.S. since 2009.1 CRE has now been found in 43 states.2 On November 19, 2013, a man in New Zealand was reported to have contracted the strain of bacterium called KPC-Oxa 48, which is resistant to every antibiotic in the market.3 There was nothing that modern medicine could do for him, other than quarantine him for the last six months of his life, for fear that he would pass on the bacteria to others in the community. This fear of resistant bacteria or “superbugs” spreading across the nation is growing among health officials in the U.S. Last year the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published that, in their “bare minimum, conservative”4 estimates, 2 million Americans get anti-biotic resistant infections each year, and at least 23,000 die as a result. It was the first time that the CDC ranked these infections as urgent, serious, and concerning.
Resistant pathogens have been mainly found in health care settings, like nursing homes and hospitals. It is certainly ironic that the breeding places for these deadly pathogens are the very places people look to for healing, and are considered by them to be the most hygienic. The range of pathogens that have become resistant to drugs is wide, and includes those bacteria which cause staph infections, gonorrhea, tuberculosis, meningitis, pneumonia, typhoid fever, salmonella, the viruses that bring influenza, the fungi that cause candidiasis or yeast infections, and the parasites that cause malaria.5
The Use of Antibiotics
The cause for this emergence of “superbugs” is obvious. In fact the director of CDC states the following:
“The use of antibiotics is the single most important factor leading to antibiotic resistance around the world. Antibiotics are among the most commonly prescribed drugs used in human medicine. However, up to half of antibiotic use in humans and much of antibiotic use in animals is unnecessary or inappropriate.”6
This statement has come a long way when compared to the denial of antibiotic resistance among certain leading health authorities during the 1950s. One may think that the awareness of antibiotic resistance does not go that far back in history, but it certainly does. In fact, the fears of antibiotic resistance was there from the very beginning. The very man who discovered the first real antibiotic, penicillin, dealt with these fears:
“The New York Times (May 2, 1953) quoted Sir Alexander Fleming, who discounted reports that germs were becoming penicillin resistant, and suggested that indiscriminate use led to patient sensitivity.”7
Says Newsweek, “ . . . every week in the year at least one hospital in the cleanest country on earth is threatened with an outbreak of serious ‘staph’ infections” (Sept. 29, 1958).8 By the 1960s the idea of antibiotic resistance was generally accepted. Since then many articles have been written which “pass the buck” to the improper use of antibiotics and lack of hygiene, to the nature of pathogens, or to the overuse of antibiotics. The director of the CDC admitted that, “The use of antibiotics is the single most important factor.” None can fairly deny that there has been an overuse of antibiotics for many decades now, but the real problem is that, “Every time antibiotics are used in any setting, bacteria evolve by developing resistance and that process can happen with alarming speed . . .” — Steve Solomon, Director of the CDC’s Office of Antimicrobial Resistance.9
The use of antibiotics in animals
In 1950 it was discovered that antibiotics made livestock grow much faster than conventional supplements.10 The monetary benefits from the use of antibiotics were so great that by the 1970s more than 40% of antibiotics produced in the US were consumed by animals.11 Today that percentage has grown to an average of around 80%.12 There is a risk of being exposed to resistant bacteria not only from meat, but from the packaging itself. “Consumer Reports’ findings, published on Thursday, underscore the potential danger to Americans posed by an apparently high rate of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the poultry aisle. Microbes that can resist multiple drugs lurked in about half of the more than 300 samples of raw chicken breasts tested by the consumer organization. Nearly all the chicken, regardless of brand or label, harbored at least one of six potentially harmful bacteria including E. coli and salmonella.”13 “Researchers bought beef, chicken, pork, and turkey in five U.S. cities and found that nearly half of the meat sampled – 47 percent – contained drug resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus.”14
It is important to note that, while good hygiene helps to prevent disease, certain “hygienic products”, widely used to help make us more hygienic, actually make us more vulnerable to disease. A prime example of this is the many “antibacterial” soaps. These soaps are loaded with caustic chemical agents which indiscriminately kill not only the bad bacteria, but the native bacteria which are needed to ward off foreign pathogens. Thus our immune system is left without its first line of defense, and is exposed to foreign, harmful pathogens. Most products that are labeled “antibacterial” contain a chemical called triclosan or some other member of its family. These chemicals have proven to disrupt the endocrine system, and have been linked to thyroid disease.15 Triclosan has also been shown to cause antibiotic resistance:
“. . . recent laboratory evidence indicates that triclosan inhibits a specific step in the formation of bacterial lipids involved in the cell wall structure. Additional experiments found that some bacteria can combat triclosan and other biocides with export systems that could also pump out antibiotics. It was demonstrated that these triclosan-resistant mutants were also resistant to several antibiotics, specifically chloramphenicol, ampicillin, tetracycline and ciprofloxacin [a.k.a. cipro].”16
In Science Daily it was noted that, “Triclosan – a synthetic antibacterial widely used in personal care products – is fueling the development of resistant bacteria in streams and rivers. So reports a new paper in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, which is the first to document triclosan resistance in a natural environment.”17 Pure soap and clean water are God’s simple way to maintain good hygiene.
The Immune System – God’s Anti-pathogen
While we may not like to admit it, bacteria, germs, and viruses are ever present with us. There is no way that we can avoid them in our world. Those who believe in a loving, all-wise creator, who made us with foresight and design, understand that He must have made us with the ability to deal with these pathogens. He gave to man a marvelous immune system that nothing can excel. The solution then lies, not in antibiotics or any other biocide, but in maintaining a healthy immune system, and assisting it in its work of protecting our bodies. This is done with proper nutrition, sunshine for vitamin D and other benefits, pure air, abstaining from harmful food and practices, exercise, rest, and trust in God. What we call the “eight laws of health”. Praise God that pathogens can never become resistant to these. I have heard of some of the most stubborn bacterial infections and diseases being conquered by faithfully applying these simple remedies – God’s prescription to fight pathogens.
1. CBS Chicago. “Outbreak Of Drug-Resistant Bacteria Linked To Lutheran General Hospital” January 6, 2014 9:42 AM. Web. 8 Jan. 2014.
2. Washington Post.“Drug-resistant bacteria pose potential catastrophe, CDC warns” Brady Dennis and Brian Vastag, Published: September 16, 2013. Web. 8 Jan. 2014.
3. New Zealand Herald. “Kiwi contracts superbug resistant to every antibiotic” Rebecca Quilliam. 9:00 AM Tuesday Nov 19, 2013. Web. 8 Jan. 2014.
4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Untreatable: Today’s Drug-Resistant Health Threats” Director Tom Frieden. Web. 8 Jan. 2014.
5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Diseases/Pathogens Associated with Antimicrobial Resistance.” Web. 8 Jan. 2014.
6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Untreatable: Today’s Drug-Resistant Health Threats” Director Tom Frieden. Web. 8 Jan. 2014.
7. Princeton. “Appendix A: Coverage of Antibiotic Resistance in the Popular Literature, 1950 to 1994” Web. 8 Jan. 2014.
9. “Drug-resistant bacteria: 23,000 deaths a year in US and getting worse” Reuters. Published time: September 17, 2013 18:40 Edited time: September 19, 2013 11:05. Web. 8 Jan. 2014.
10. Scientic American. “Riots, Rage and Resistance: A Brief History of How Antibiotics Arrived on the Farm.” Maureen Ogle. September 3, 2013. Web. 8 Jan. 2014.
11. 7. Princeton.“Appendix A: Coverage of Antibiotic Resistance in the Popular Literature, 1950 to 1994”. Web. 8 Jan. 2014.
12. The Washington Post. “The FDA is cracking down on antibiotics on farms. Here’s what you should know.” Brad Plumer. December 14, 2013. Web. 8 Jan. 2014.
13. The Huffington Post. “Half Of Supermarket Chicken Harbors Superbugs, Consumer Reports Finds.” Lynne Peeples. Posted: 12/19/2013 6:00 am EST Updated: 12/19/2013 9:28 am EST. Web. 8 Jan. 2014.
14. CBS NEWS. “Drug Resistant Bacteria Found in Half of US Meat.” April 15, 2011. Web. 8 Jan. 2014.
15. The Huffington Post. “Safety Of Triclosan, Antibacterial Soap Ingredient, Being Reviewed By FDA” By MATTHEW PERRONE 05/02/13 11:02 PM ET EDT. Web. 8 Jan. 2014.
16. Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics. “General Background: Antibiotic Agents.” Web. 8 Jan. 2014.
17. Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies. "Antibacterial products fuel resistant bacteria in streams and rivers." ScienceDaily, 19 Sep. 2013. Web. 8 Jan. 2014.
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Seventh Day Home Church Fellowships is an association of Sabbath-keeping groups, which through web & tele-conferencing provides means for study, fellowship, and jointly organized missionary projects.
Seventh Day Home Church Fellowships:
P.O. Box 262, Laconia, NH 03246, U.S.A.
Phone: 530 708-2381
Chief Editor: David Sims
Assistant Editor: Thomas Akens
Proof-reader: Alice Fredrick
Layout: Thomas Akens