The clock is rapidly running out on antibiotics. Indeed, it may have already run out.
A US woman has died from an infection that was resistant to all 26 available antibiotics, health officials said this week, raising new concerns about the rise of dangerous superbugs.
The woman, who was in her 70s, died in Nevada in September, and had recently been hospitalized in India with fractured leg bones, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.
The cause of death was sepsis, following infection from a rare bacteria known as carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), which is resistant to all antibiotics available in the United States.
The specific strain of CRE, known as Klebsiella pneumoniae, was isolated from one of her wounds in August.
Tests were negative for the mcr-1 gene — a great concern to health experts because it makes bacteria resistant to the antibiotic of last resort, colistin.
This is genuinely terrifying. Remember, once a species becomes overpopulated, Nature usually figures out a way to cut it back down to size again. Human intelligence doesn’t eliminate that reaction, it merely raises the bar. Immigration and global travel are creating significant health risks, and may even be putting the future of the species in jeopardy.
“The report highlights international travel and treatment overseas as a feature in the introduction of this pan-resistant isolate into the USA,” he said.
Complicating matters is the fact that lower average intelligence across the West means that humanity is less able to address these concerns should they arise. Sooner or later, the Trump administration will have to look very seriously at denying antibiotics to everyone who cannot, or will not, abide by a strictly observed drug-taking regimen. The potential consequences are that serious.