Posted by: drgeophysics | October 23, 2013

Bacteria–another reason to stop everything right now and think for a moment.

“Granted that we face a world crisis which leaves us standing so often amid the surging murmur of life’s restless sea. But every crisis has both its dangers and its opportunities. It can spell either salvation or doom. In a dark confused world the kingdom of God may yet reign in the hearts of men.”  Martin Luther King

PBS has aired an excellent program “Hunting the Nightmare Bacteria”, which you can watch entirely at this URL.

Stop everything and watch this one hour program, then meditate on what you saw.  I was thinking about this for many hours following the program.  I mean, really thinking about what was presented;  It’s a complicated story.  The Good: The courage of the people involved is inspiring.  The Bad and The Ugly: The reaction of business and government is problematical.

Ignorance can extract a terrible price. The price on society has proven to be cumulative over the time period that ignorance and greed have been in charge of policy related to important topics such as this.

Living in a world where these dangerous bacteria are untreatable is not where you want to pitch your tent in “camp rest of your life”.  As a younger man I worked in some very remote, poor, and far away regions of the world.  I remember seeing people with diseases that could be treated in a first or second world country, but where deadly and untreatable, in the countries I was working.  This included seeing people with, well, it’s hard to think about even now, think of a horror film, but with real people.  In those places everyone dies, there is no hope.

You can learn much more by watching these other videos.  They begin in a very approachable format and become more complicated as you move down the list.  It is no surprise that this danger has been warned about since the development of the first true wonder drugs in the 1940’s.  As usual in the areas of public health the US is not well organized.  The response of Israel in 2007 to an outbreak mentioned in the PBS program is interesting.   I found it interesting the information missing in the PBS piece, especially the progression of superbugs through India and Pakistan and the strong response to superbugs mentioned in the second to last video link below.  These are all excellent, I hope you find time to watch them.

Be sure to talk with other people about this important topic.

Initial overview–Virginia Commonwealth University describes what super bugs are.  Brief and to the point.

Brain warm up– High school science teacher and LLNL scientist explain what is going on.  Free T-shirts!  What a great event, wish I could have attended.

Take is up a notch — American Society for Microbiology.  Drug resistant bacteria in the wild, source–Seagulls in Miami.

In my opinion : One of the best presentations about this important subject.  Two well known public health officials (neither from the US) describe what is happening with these superbugs and correct public health responses.  They also identify global dangers and concerns during their excellent discussion.  This is an excellent panel presentation.  Very understandable, includes interesting questions from the listening audience.

Final world–Dr. Stuart B. Levy, global treasure and someone who has actively warned about this danger for almost 40 years!  What a scientist.  In my own work I have talked with scientists who had the correct answers 40 or 50 years before anyone appreciated the questions, and am inspired by such individuals; this is a fascinating interview with Dr. Levy and well presented.

You can learn more at the Better Health ChannelWiki (of course),   CDCmore from the CDC,  and an excellent 2008 story from The New Yorker.

It amazes me that while various diseases that occur in Horses must be reported immediately to Health authorities, there is no such rules for national reporting of these dangerous superbugs.  This must be changed.


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