A word on antibiotic resistance

A perfectly healthy friend (i.e. not immunocompromised) of mine is being treated for MRSA, a very antibiotic-resistant staph infection. She is undoubtedly the healthiest person in the ICU: she felt completely normal except for a spreading red itching on her arm. I felt awful that, as she struggled to undo the waterproof dressing over her IV, I looked at the various cuts and abrasions on my hands and weighed touching her with potentially contracting infection. I hate treating people like they’re toxic; it feels so dehumanizing. I hand-sanitized like crazy when we left her.

Antibiotic resistance is real. Years of terrible medical and agricultural abuse of antibiotics has brought us here. People thought, “oh, we’ll see what happens”, and now we’re seeing what happens. Colistin, the last-resort antibiotic, has been heavily used as a prophylactic in agricultural animals across the world… and now colistin resistance has emerged. We have not learned.

There’s not much you can do unless you’re an industrial farmer (and even then, you probably can’t do much against the economic pressures of today), except writing to your congresspeople maybe. And if you are prescribed antibiotics, TAKE THE ENTIRE DOSE. Don’t stop early. DON’T. And don’t take antibiotics for common colds. Wash your hands often.

Ugh.

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2 thoughts on “A word on antibiotic resistance

  1. Pleased to say I can’t remember the last time I have taken antibiotics, and I credit the fact that I have a very good immune system in part to that… not that this will save me when the super-resistant epidemics arrive. Thank you for raising awareness of this, and I do hope your friend will recover.

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    • A good immune system is so easy to take for granted. My friend has an excellent immune system and still got a hard-to-shake infection. It’s luck as much as anything else. Also it’s important to remember that antibiotics are used after routine surgeries and invasive procedures, for children with ear infections, for premie babies, for elderly people with pneumonia… Everyone owes their lives to antibiotics. It’s no understatement to say that penicillin’s discovery, along with modern sanitation techniques, was the foundation of modern medicine.

      Liked by 1 person

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