Are We Breeding Super-Germs?

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Fearless Leader, Jun 13, 2007.

  1. Fearless Leader macrumors 68020

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    #1
    With all the antibiotic everything killing 99.9% of bacteria, we still have that .1%. That stronger bacteria that can withstand that antibiotic, and now has no competition to grow.
    Also Doctors are dishing out antibiotics for almost everything, or at least I've notice around here within the people I know. And the some bacteria will withstand that, and have a clean slate to grow and transfer to new hosts.

    On top of this we got TV ads describing how horrid these germs are and are harmful to your family. Creating people who raise children with this fear and weaker immune systems because they've never encountered these germs.
     
  2. mrkramer macrumors 603

    mrkramer

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    #2
    Yes I think that we are to some extent, and that is probably why we have worse desieses now.
     
  3. Punani macrumors regular

    Punani

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    #3
    I think another problem is the fact that we're seeing antibiotics becoming less effective because people fail to take the prescribed dosage and simply just stop when they feel better. As a result, the infection isn't completely wiped out and drug-resistant strains of bacteria begin to form because the patient didn't do as they were told.

    People are wonderful, no?
     
  4. Doctor Q Administrator

    Doctor Q

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  5. cycocelica macrumors 68000

    cycocelica

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    #5
    It is a real problem. We talked about this in my environmental science class back in high school. Purell and those quick cleaners are breeding the germs. But if we lived a life of fear like this, we would be Bubble Boy (Girl). Enjoy life.
     
  6. .Andy macrumors 68030

    .Andy

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    The problem here is the confusion in the way cleaning products kill 'germs' with the way antibiotics for human consumption work. Cleaning products are non-specifically bacteriocidal, using obliterative chemicals that generate moieties such as free oxygen radicals (as with bleach and alcohol) to kill the bacteria. As you point out these products do claim to kill 99% of bacteria, but predominantly because there is no way you can kill them all using domestic cleaning techniques.

    It doesn't necessarily follow that the bacteria cleaning products don't kill are any more likely to be pathogenic or become resistant to human antibiotics. Human antibiotics work differently to cleaning products as they have to perform in the context of the human body (i.e. using bleach or alcohol would just kill our cells as well). Human antiobiotics are commonly specifically bacteriostatic, meaning they stop the bacteria growing, allowing the bodies immune system to finish them off. Therefore if by chance a bacteria was to become resistant to a cleaning product (unlikely given their obliterative nature), there is little chance that it would become resistant to human antibiotics that have a completely different killing mechanism.

    This is partly true. Doctors have over-prescribed antibiotics in the past as the problem with drug resistance wasn't recognised and antibiotics were a safe, easy, effective, and carefree treatment. Luckily this has changed now and doctors (with many exceptions sadly) are becoming increasingly careful in their prescribing.

    The biggest problem with doctors prescribing antibiotics is people often aren't compliant. If someone doesn't take the full course (even if they feel 100% better) it exponentially increases the risk of bacteria becoming resistant. For the real nasties such as multi-drug resistant tuberculosis, this means that we watch and administer every single antibiotic tablet to the patient by DOTs (delayed observed treatment short course). A big problem is that in third world countries antibiotics are being distributed without proper sensitivity testing, to patients that can't fully understand the necessity to take the full course or can't afford to do so. This is why we see such an increase in multi-drug resistant bacteria from these countries.

    For most bacterial infections we now have greater, faster, sophisticated, and cheaper methods of identifying the strain and it's antibiotic sensitivity before treatment. This is done routinely, so if you've ever had a urine test for a UTI, pneumonia, swabs taken from an infected wound etc, you would have had both the type of bacteria and the most effective antibiotic identified before being prescribed a treatment. This way the unnecessary use of antibiotics is being greatly decreased.
     
  7. Legolamb macrumors 6502a

    Legolamb

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    #7
    You're right .Andy. That's part of the reason we are seeing a rise in TB. (Another part is that drug companies don't have an incentive for coming up with a modern treatment but that's a whole other thread).
    But my husband (lung MD) routinely tells me stories of patients insisting he hand out a pill for a cold or virus as if they aren't geting their money worth's of medical care.
     
  8. miloblithe macrumors 68020

    miloblithe

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    #8
    Isn't it Directly Observed Treatment, Short-Course?
     
  9. .Andy macrumors 68030

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    That's one of the big problems with antibiotics being over-prescribed. It's all too easy to send a patient away with tablets (that they can't get over the counter) so they feel they are being pro-active about their condition. It's also a treatment that might be beneficial if the condition isn't viral.

    Many patients aren't too happy after dragging themselves off their sick beds with the flu to be told to go home and wait it out. Even the placebo effect of a prescription antibiotic is beneficial. Although that by no means warrants them ethically nor given the opportunity of drug resistance.

    You'd be 100% right there miloblithe! I have no idea where I got delayed from. I've a respiratory barrier exam next week where it's likely to come up :eek:. I'll think of you during the test ;)!
     
  10. Don't panic macrumors 603

    Don't panic

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    #10
    great post ,andy.

    i would also add the excesssive use of antibiotic in cattle and other farm-raised animals, that make their way to meat and milk.
     
  11. Fearless Leader thread starter macrumors 68020

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    Great posts .andy
    I was wondering about house hold products not really being part of their problem due to their nuke your counter top for anything living approach.

    though if we just let the products clean them we never experience the germ and bodies never learn to fight it.
     
  12. atszyman macrumors 68020

    atszyman

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    #12
    There's an easy solution to that. Let the Doctor's prescribe a placebo in the "wait it out" cases for insistent people. Big Pharma can overcharge your insurance for sugar pills and we don't help bacteria in the quest to become invincible.

    Of course once the Insurance companies figure it out then we'll have an interesting fight as Big Pharma and Insurance go head to head. Or agree that the co-pay is the price of the drug so you can spend $5-$20 on a $0.05 bottle of sugar pills...
     
  13. leekohler macrumors G5

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    #13
    I don't take antibiotics for anything unless absolutely necessary. I never have- my parents didn't ever take us to the doctor for colds either. Guess what? I rarely get sick. I'll get a cold about every year and a half to two years.

    We haven't just made the germs stronger, but we've also weakened our immune systems by using antibiotics for every little thing.
     
  14. miloblithe macrumors 68020

    miloblithe

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    No problem. I did give a presentation on DOTS at a health conference a couple weeks ago, so I should know, although I can tell from your posts that you know a LOT more about this all than I do, my knowledge of acronyms not withstanding. :)
     
  15. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

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    #15
    well quite often doctor will give antibiotics for a virus if the virus is making the person pretty sick. reason for this is because you immune systems is already in a weaken state because of the virus and it is a lot easier for you to get sick. The antibiotics prevent a baterica from making you even sicker and it makes it easier for your body to deal with the virus.

    at least that is the logic behind it. Still they give them out to much but if you are very sick with a virus antibiotics do help because it relieves stain off the immune system so it can better deal with the virus
     
  16. zimv20 macrumors 601

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    #16
    that's rubbish. anti-biotics don't help your immune system, they kill off the good bacteria, too. if you immune system is busy fighting something non-biotic, you shouldn't cripple it with anti-biotics.
     
  17. zap2 macrumors 604

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    #17
    Doctor House agrees with you, and so do I


    (He talked about this in one of the Episodes)
     
  18. Queso macrumors G4

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    #18
    Exactly. We're supposed to be exposed to germs. Humans have this thing going on that we can somehow remove ourselves from nature. We buy processed food pre-packaged in supermarkets, we expect that we're never going to get ill, and we think we can wipe out the germs around us without there being consequences.

    This in my view is a very similar topic to the Toilet Seat thread. We have unrealistic expectations about our own place in the biosphere. Unless an infection is really bad, let your body deal with it. When the Superplague hits it'll give you a far better chance of survival :)
     
  19. skunk macrumors G4

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    #19
    Not too dissimilar to any number of "How to Deal with Terrorists" threads, actually. :rolleyes:
     
  20. Ugg macrumors 68000

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    Antibiotics do nothing against a virus! They're used against bacteria. Antivirals are used against a virus.
     
  21. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

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    But doctors do, or at least they often did, prescribe antibiotics for viral infections, to protect against potential secondary infections. That practice is very much less common now. It probably never was a very good idea. Doctors will also often if not always prescribe antibiotics for pneumonia, even when they think the source may be viral. Often the source of a pneumonia can't be pinpointed as either viral or bacterial.
     
  22. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    #22
    yes, this is still true. i got into a "discussion" about it with my doctor this last flu season.
     
  23. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

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    #23
    From personal experience too. The doctors never did isolate the source of my pneumonia. They can culture your blood for a number of likely suspects, but that takes a long time, and often as not, results in no positives. Antibiotics are the big shotgun they can use right away for what can be a life-threatening condition. So in this case it's probably the most prudent treatment. Still I remember when I was a kid doctors routinely prescribing antibiotics for the flu and even for acne.
     
  24. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    #24
    tetracycline, yeah. i was on that for years. how stupid is that?

    this last season, my chest x-ray came up negative for pneumonia (it was flu and bronchitis, my doc later decided). but at the time, he made me take home a prescription for antibiotics, just in case. i agreed to take it if i started feeling worse.

    of course, the logical endpoint of my AB avoidance is, "i'd rather die than take anti-biotics". so i am aware of that.
     
  25. Doctor Q Administrator

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    #25
    I'm in favor of patient education, but it's very hard to change people's natures or to spread medical information to every patient who should hear it. It seems that people who feel better will continue to stop taking their antibiotics before they've taken the full course.

    But it's much easier to influence what doctors prescribe, what the drugs do, and to get patients to do what's in their own personal best interests (rather than what's good for society in general). That got me to wondering what could be done to incentivize the patients to take all of their medicine. Here are two nutty ideas based on having some kind of "harmless condition" that can be controlled by drugs and easily detected.

    1. Your doctor gives you a 2-week course of antibiotics. The first pill to be taken has an extra drug that makes your toenails turn blue. The other antibiotics contain a drug that "cures" the toenail color over the same 2 week course. The color reminds you to take the full course of medicine.

    2. Your doctor gives you a 2-week course of antibiotics. You are charged an extra "completion fee." The pills contain an extra drug that causes a harmless change in your body that can be measured easily, such as with a cheek swab, a urine test, or a toenail color inspection. If you pass a test in 2 weeks, it proves you took the full course, and you get the fee refunded. Assuming it's easy (test/refund counters in every post office?) and the price is set properly, this would encourage you to comply.

    There may be no such "harmless condition", so these examples may be useless, but what I'm suggesting is looking for ways to address the problem without having to work against human nature.
     

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