The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
How Scientists Are Combating ‘Superbugs’: 4 Essential Reads
By Bijal Trivedi
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report on Nov. 13 that describes a list of microorganisms that have become resistant to antibiotics and pose a serious threat to public health. Each year these so-called superbugs cause more than 2.8 million infections in the U.S. and kill more than 35,000 people.
The CDC listed 18 species of bacteria and fungi that are of greatest concern. The fear is that these superbugs could spread resistance to other disease-causing organisms, rendering modern medicines' most powerful weapons useless.
At the same time, many scholars across the U.S. are addressing the problem and coming up with innovative solutions to fight these microscopic threats. Here we spotlight four examples from our 2018-2019 archives.
1. Consistent Rules for Hospitals With Superbugs
Infectious disease physician-scientist David Pride explains why incremental improvements of current antibiotics are not effective, and how the rules for containing antibiotic resistant bacteria differ from hospital to hospital exacerbating the spread of these deadly microbes. He presents an ambitious plan for curbing the rise of superbugs. That includes adopting common protocols across hospitals for when, and which, antibiotics are prescribed to stop inappropriate and over use. He also underscores the need to administer fewer antibiotics in livestock.
2. Viruses to the Rescue
It is well known that the enemy of your enemy is your friend. Andrew Camilli and Minmin Yen write about how they and other researchers are exploiting this idea to enlist bacteria-killing viruses, called bacteriophages, to wipe out superbugs that are resistant to antibiotics. These researchers are focusing on using bacteriophages to kill off the cholera bacterium in the gut to prevent infection. But these viral cocktails are also proving effective against other infections.
3. Smart Antibiotics
One problem with current antibiotics is that they don't discriminate between the disease causing microbes and the beneficial ones that make up our microbiome and are essential to good health. David B. Stewart and Arun K. Sharma describe how they are designing nanotechnology to carry inexpensive targeted drugs that only kill Clostridioides difficile, a microbe that the CDC has classified in this new report as an urgent threat.
4. Deadly Fungi?
You might be under the impression that all of the microbes on the CDC's list of public health threats are bacteria. But three — 20 percent of those mentioned in the report — are fungi. The most worrisome new foe is called Candida auris. With limited drugs to fight fungal infections, Carol A. Kumamoto and Jesus A. Romo write about how they are studying a less dangerous fungal relative, C. albicans to identify the vulnerabilities of this treacherous fungus.
Editor's note: This story is a roundup of articles from The Conversation's archives.
Reposted with permission from The Conversation.
- Drug-Resistant Salmonella Linked to Overuse of Antibiotics in Cattle ... ›
- Here's How Bad Antibiotic Resistance Has Gotten Over the Past 20 ... ›
- Rise of Drug-Resistant Fungal Disease Could Be Due to Global ... ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Nestlé cannot claim that its Ice Mountain bottled water brand is an essential public service, according to Michigan's second highest court, which delivered a legal blow to the food and beverage giant in a unanimous decision.
A number of supermarkets across the country have voluntarily issued a recall on sushi, salads and spring rolls distributed by Fuji Food Products due to a possible listeria contamination, as CBS News reported.
If you read a lot of news about the climate crisis, you probably have encountered lots of numbers: We can save hundreds of millions of people from poverty by 2050 by limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, but policies currently in place put us on track for a more than three degree increase; sea levels could rise three feet by 2100 if emissions aren't reduced.
Poverty and violence in Central America are major factors driving migration to the United States. But there's another force that's often overlooked: climate change.
Retired Lt. Cmdr. Oliver Leighton Barrett is with the Center for Climate and Security. He says that in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, crime and poor economic conditions have long led to instability.
"And when you combine that with protracted drought," he says, "it's just a stressor that makes everything worse."
Barrett says that with crops failing, many people have fled their homes.
"These folks are leaving not because they're opportunists," he says, "but because they are in survival mode. You have people that are legitimate refugees."
So Barrett supports allocating foreign aid to programs that help people in drought-ridden areas adapt to climate change.
"There are nonprofits that are operating in those countries that have great ideas in terms of teaching farmers to use the land better, to harvest water better, to use different variety of crops that are more resilient to drought conditions," he says. "Those are the kinds of programs I think are needed."
So he says the best way to reduce the number of climate change migrants is to help people thrive in their home countries.
Reporting credit: Deborah Jian Lee / ChavoBart Digital Media.
Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.
- Trump Admin Ignored Its Own Data Linking Migrant Crisis to Climate ... ›
- How Climate Change Is Driving Emigration From Central America ... ›
Chris Pratt was called out on social media by Game of Thrones star Jason Momoa after Pratt posted an image "low key flexing" with a single-use plastic water bottle.