infection

Age of Superbugs…

The current hospital outbreak of superbug carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) connected to the death of two patients at a UCLA hospital is unnerving some patients scheduled to undergo the same procedure in other hospitals as well. CNN reported on Thursday, February 19, 2015 that the infection was caused by medical endoscopes or duodenoscopes manufactured by Olympus, which the FDA reportedly admits “cause challenges for cleaning and high-level disinfection.” The hospital has contacted other 179 patients who had undergone the same procedure from October 2014 to January 2015.
For almost a century now the medical profession has been using antibiotics to combat and control bacteria that make people sick. But in recent years these antibiotics seem to have lost their power to destroy some of the bacteria. The way these antibiotics have been used sometimes seems to have contributed in the creation of drug-resistant bacteria which we now know as superbugs. Superbugs are strains of bacteria that have developed the ability to resist many forms of antibiotics. The CDC claims that each year 2 million people are infected with a drug-resistant bacteria of some sort and 23,000 of them die due to the infection- in the United States alone.1
Antibiotics are among the most common types of medicinal drugs prescribed by clinicians to their patients. Sometimes antibiotics are given to livestock for disease prevention and for growth stimulation. But these antibiotics are not always a necessary treatment regimen, and their over-use as well as misuse ends up creating drug-resistant bacteria. Sometimes people take antibiotics when they come down with the flu, but antibiotics cannot destroy the flu-causing virus. They are not able to fight a viral infection. In these cases, the antibiotics only succeed in destroying a wide variety of bacteria in the body including the ‘good’ bacteria that help with the digestive process and general well-being. But some types of bacteria are tough enough to survive this form of “treatment.” They seize this as an opportunity to grow stronger and to multiply. Sometimes they even spread to other people.
As more people continue to take unnecessary antibiotics, the bacteria become more and more drug-resistant and spread, and may even share their drug-resistant characteristics or traits with other bacteria, making them stronger still while the antibiotics become less and less efficacious.
This places a responsibility on each one of us to take antibiotics only when necessary and in a manner prescribed by the healthcare provider. It is important to refrain from insisting on antibiotics against the advice of a provider.
Sources

1 National Institutes of Health (2014). Stop the Spread of Superbugs. http://newsinhealth.nih.gov/issue/feb2014/feature1

2 Ibid.

A Moldy Threat to Health

Statistics from 2007 studies conducted at Berkeley reveal that about 21.8 million individuals have asthma in the United States. The pathogenesis of 4.6 million of these cases has been attributed to exposure to indoor dampness and mold. Overall, approximately 30 to 50% of asthma-related health problems are linked to building dampness and mold. The cost for treatment of indoor mold-related asthmatic problems was estimated to be $3.5 billion. The World Health Organization claims that about 1.5 million deaths worldwide each year are linked to indoor air pollution of some sort.

The main element of indoor air pollution is microbial pollution caused by a myriad species of both bacteria and filamentous fungi also known as mold which grows in moist and damp places. Mold was discovered by William Yobe in 1827. The Institute of Medicine has linked exposure to mold to upper respiratory tract problems. Certain types of toxic mold such as aspergillus, fumigatus and histoplasma can cause severe infections in vulnerable individuals with compromised immune systems. A product of mold is mycotoxins. People are often exposed to mycotoxins by ingesting contaminated food, by skin contact or by inhaling these toxins. If exposure to mycotoxins is protracted and unmitigated, the results can be serious adverse health outcomes. Clinical effects resulting from exposure to mycotoxin fumonisins include pulmonary edema, esophageal cancer and many others. Mycotoxin ochratoxins can cause kidney and liver damage over a long period of time. Hypersensitivity pneumonitis, an immune-mediated health condition can also be exacerbated by exposure to mold.

What is astonishing is that millennia before Yobe’s time the Bible already had cautionary counsel against exposure to mold and fungi. Although the process for remediation of mold infestation has improved in modern times due to technological advancement the approach remains largely the same as the biblical one. Buildings with serious mold infestation often need to be vacated. Recently, in 2002, a South Atlanta apartment complex showed “a serious mold problem” in at least 37 of its 119 units. This necessitated evacuation of dozens of families from the apartments and the property manager and complex owners ended up with numerous compensatory claims from residents exposed to the mold. In Leviticus 14:34-39 the Bible says “When you enter the land of Canaan, which I am giving you as your possession, and [there is] a spreading mildew in a house in that land, the owner of the house must go and tell the priest, ‘I have seen something that looks like mildew in my house.’ The priest is to order the house to be emptied before he goes in to examine the mildew, so that nothing in the house will be pronounced unclean.” The Bible is an amazing repository of health guidelines. Learn More at: http://youtu.be/9TOcHIb8N5k