The worldwide problem of people suffering from antibiotic-resistant bacteria is growing by the day and is a major threat to human health.
One reason for this is the overuse and often misuse of antibiotics in prescriptions for viral illnesses like the flu and the simple cold. For these, there is absolutely no benefit because they are not bacterial infections.
The overuse or misuse of antibiotics simply weakens the immune system and causes havoc in the GI tract by killing the healthy flora in the gut. As a consequence, illnesses like sepsis are on the rise.
Sepsis is a life-threatening condition caused by your body’s massive immunological response to a bacterial infection in the blood. It causes inflammation that can lead to organ failure. Such an infection from an antibiotic-resistant bacteria is potentially lethal.
Another reason that antibiotic-resistant bacteria are spreading is the overuse of drugs on farm animals to increase growth and prevent infections. The overuse of these drugs in humans as well as animals has caused bacteria to adapt, evolve, and transform into "super bugs," since antibiotics have now lost their effectiveness in killing them.
This practice is pervasive in the poultry industry and has resulted in chicken meat being full of antibiotic-resistant superbugs. Samples of chicken meat from some supermarkets have shown contamination by bacteria that is resistant to even powerful antibiotics, which are used extensively in animal farming.
More antibiotics are actually being fed to farm animals than the amount used on patients. The farmed fish industry is where the highest amount is being allocated. This is done in order to promote growth, and to compensate for the stressful, overcrowded, and unhygienic conditions in which the fish are kept. Adding antibiotics to the feed is much cheaper than creating a more hygienic, pathogen-free environment for the animals. Livestock are continuously fed antibiotics at low doses, which allows pathogens to become resistant.
This practice has contributed to the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and is causing increased levels of human diseases.
Meat from these animals ends up causing difficult-to-treat illnesses in people, through direct or indirect contact with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, as well as through the ingestion of meat containing residual amounts of antibiotics.
A superbug can be very difficult to treat. It can easily progress from a superficial skin infection to one that is life-threatening. Drug-resistant tuberculosis, meningitis, gonorrhea, and other diseases that were once under control are now back and on the increase. Some infections are now resistant to nearly all antibiotics, even the most powerful.
The overuse of antibiotics is rampant all over the world, especially in countries where antibiotics are cheap and can be purchased without a prescription.
Alarmingly, many strains of bacterial infections in hospitals have become resistant to commonly-used antibiotics.
Millions of people are affected by hospital-acquired drug-resistant infections. As a consequence, hundreds of thousands of people die every year.
To resolve this crisis, we can first of all purchase only fish and meat from animals raised naturally and in a humane way. Secondly, we can decide to take antibiotics only when necessary, and not when dealing with a viral infection.