A ‘slow catastrophe’ unfolds as the golden age of antibiotics comes to an end’ 23,000 dead and counting

A grim Los Angeles Times report suggests thousands are going to die of infectious diseases as the synthetic antibiotic era of modern medicine comes to an end. The germs have developed resistance to most antibiotics.  “People will die” says a Harvard specialist.  “Shame on us if we wait till bodies are in the street,” said another researcher. [LA Times July 11, 2016]

Each year, more than 2 million people in the U.S. are infected with a bacterium that has become resistant to one or more antibiotic medication designed to kill it, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. At least 23,000 people die as a direct result of antibiotic-resistant infections.

The use of bacteria-killing viruses — an approach called bacteriophage therapy that revives an idea largely abandoned in the 1930s — is getting a second look.

Experts say it’s just a matter of time before other disease-causing bacteria pick up the fateful mcr-1 gene, said the LA Times report.  Oops, that gene mutation just occurred.  The Department of Defense announced in May that the discovery of the first mcr-1 gene found in bacteria in a human in the United States.  It was first reported in China on a worldwide basis last year.  [Lancet Infectious Diseases Nov 2016] E-coli bacteria that carry the MCR-1 gene make bacteria resistant to the antibiotic colistin, which is the drug of last-resort in patients being treated with multi-drug resistant infections.  [Centers for Disease Control May 31, 2016]

The most promising natural antibiotic that has been shown to be effective against multi-drug resistant bacteria is allicin derived from fresh-crushed garlic. [Alternative Complementary Medicine April 2011; Pakistan Journal Pharmaceutical Science Jan 2011]  Allicin from garlic does not induce antibiotic resistance and is more effective than some antibiotics against germ-resistant bacteria. [Journal Food Protection March 2002]

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