Do you consume antibiotics anytime you have fever? Or do you just end your antibiotics consumption anytime you feel better? Be careful, because you might be under the threat of superbugs with that bad habit if you keep doing it.
In case you are wondering what superbugs are all about, they are microbes which are resistant to antibiotics. When microbes become resistant to antibiotics, what else can help us to eradicate them from our body?
As a result, your body would become more prone to infection once you catch diseases caused by superbugs. Inability to eradicate them completely before infection happens is the reason for that. Doesn’t it sound scary?
What’s scarier is, the destruction of our environment is apparently one of the reasons why we have more superbugs nowadays than before. This should be another reason why we must protect our environment.
Want to know more about the relation between our environment and superbugs? Here, in this article, let’s talk about it further.
“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” wise men said. And apparently some microbes took this advice personally. There is no specific classification for superbugs except they are antibiotic-resistant microbes.
When microbes are exposed to a dose of antibiotics smaller than what’s required to kill them, they develop resistance to it. This is the reason why doctors prescribe the exact amount of antibiotics for you to consume all the way to the end.
If you don’t finish your antibiotics, some surviving microbes might develop the immunity to it. That combined with reckless consumption of antibiotics without expert advices whether you really need it or not, may increase the potentials even further.
The severity of diseases and infections caused by superbugs may vary between patients, but worst thing that can happen is when it is no longer curable. And yes we already have such kind of problem when patients cannot be treated with any medicine.
“This is not some mystical apocalypse or fear-mongering. It is reality. It’s right here, right now,” said Dr. Victoria Fraser, the head of the Department of Medicine at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
So, what would happen to those who suffer from disease that cannot be cured by antibiotics? As mentioned above, risk of infection increases. The death tolls for superbugs infection were around 1.27 million with additional 4.95 million other death.
And worse, in some cases, any treatment cannot be done to make the patients better. “We are faced with trying to take care of patients who have drug-resistant infections that we have no treatment for,” said Fraser.
Can you imagine that around 1.27 million people had to suffer from curable disease but couldn’t be cured because the microbes infecting them had become superbugs? In this condition, the only thing that medical experts can do is treat every symptom and hope their antibodies do the rest of the work.
It is so severe nowadays, that “in Nigeria, by 2050, more than one in four deaths would be attributable to drug resistant infections, while India would see an additional two million lives lost every year,” as stated from an analysis by economist Jim O’Neill to BBC.
Dr. Debra Goff, infectious clinical pharmacist and professor of pharmacy at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center said that we are in antibiotic crisis. “We’re in an antibiotic crisis. Many call this the ‘silent pandemic’ going on concurrently with the coronavirus pandemic,” she said.
Antibiotics Environmental Problem
Now, let’s get to the part where environmental protection should be included in preventing the rise of superbugs in our planet. Do you know where all our antibiotics go if it is not in a mission curing diseases or infection? The answer is our environment.
Yes, the unused or used antibiotics go to the environment, usually in waterways and there they still do their characteristics: killing microbes and chill. Chill here means that they are just waiting for the correct microbe to kill and do what they do best when they find it.
As a result, when the water that has antibiotic content is drunk by people, they basically consume small dose of antibiotics. And this accident may also lead to superbugs because they simply just consume antibiotics without proper dose.
The problem is, the more a pathogen is exposed to antibiotics, and the more it develops resistance to it. When this resistant pathogen attacks somebody, it has become a superbug which requires something better than ordinary antibiotics.
This problem has become something that even WHO is concerned for. Washed off antibiotics problem can actually be tackled with several methods, such as regulating livestock practices, reducing inappropriate antimicrobial treatments, and improved wastewater treatment facilities.
More than Cancer
We have mentioned before that this problem has the potentials to become the leading cause of death in the future, even more than cancer. And this is not a fear mongering , because recent study has found that the problem we talk about has killed more people than AIDS and malaria nowadays.
“These new data reveal the true scale of antimicrobial resistance worldwide, and are a clear signal that we must act now to combat the threat,” said Chris Murray of University of Washington. “Previous estimates had predicted 10 million annual deaths from AMR (antimicrobial resistance) by 2050, but we now know for certain that we are already far closer to that figure than we thought.”
The rising number, which saw the number rises faster than predicted, mean that we have started to harvest what we sow since decades ago. We now know that not only consuming antibiotics recklessly that can cause this problem, but also our ignorance to dispose unused and used antibiotics.
Cleaning up our environment is also proven vital to prevent this problem to become global threat, because a lot of antibiotics are literally going down the drain.
“AMR is already one of the greatest challenges facing humanity. Behind these new numbers are families and communities who are tragically bearing the brunt of the silent AMR pandemic. We must use this data as a warning signal to spur on action at every level,” said Sally Davies, UK Special Envoy on Antimicrobial Resistance to DW.