Mailbag! Deadly “Nightmare Bacteria” Arrive in U.S.
Dear Living Well Daily Reader,
You’ve got questions…
We’ve got answers!
Today, we are going to cover an important and worrisome topic — antibiotic resistance. Many readers have written in with concerns about this ongoing public health issue, so today, we are going to answer one reader’s questions.
Let’s get started…
Last week, my neighbor told me that a woman in Nevada died from an infection that no antibiotic could kill. Is this true? If so, what kind of bacterium was it?
Also, I’ve heard antibiotics are becoming less effective. If true, how can I protect myself?
Great question, Becka.
Yes, your neighbor is correct. A Nevada woman died from an incurable bacterial infection back in September 2016.
The bacteria responsible for the infection, carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), were resistant to all antibiotics. After doctors tested 26 different antibiotics on the bacteria, the infection finally killed her.
CRE bacteria, called “nightmare bacteria” by some experts, are resistant to almost all antibiotics, including last-ditch drugs called carbapenems. And while these bad bugs are not considered terribly common, they’re responsible for about 9,300 infections and 600 deaths in the U.S. every year.
More alarmingly, new research from Harvard shows that CRE bacteria are spreading more quickly than researchers previously suspected and could even be transmitted from person to person. If they remain unchecked, these nearly immortal bacteria could easily spread through hospitals, care centers and other public places — leaving many infected or dead in their wake.
But “nightmare bacteria” aren’t the only bugs you need to worry about.
Since Western medicine has inaptly used and overprescribed antibiotics for decades, antibiotic-resistant bacteria are popping up everywhere — making some antibiotics less effective or ineffective. Currently, the CDC identifies 18 drug-resistant bugs as the most serious threats. In total, antibiotic-resistant bacteria are responsible for at 2 million infections and 23,000 deaths every year.
Additionally, our food system is saturated with antibiotics. Eighty percent of the antibiotics used in the U.S. are fed to farm animals for growth promotion and disease prevention. Resistant bacteria can be traced from these food sources to folks who suffer antibiotic-resistant infections.
The best way to keep yourself safe from antibiotic-resistant bacteria is to not take antibiotics. That’s not always possible. However, there are a few easy ways to cut down on your antibiotic consumption:
- Choose antibiotic-free meats
- If you have an infection, ask your doctor if the bacteria will be tested to ensure the right antibiotic is prescribed
- Don’t request antibiotics for viral illnesses
- Don’t take antibiotics that are not prescribed to you or are left over from a previous illness
- Take the complete course of prescribed antibiotics, even when you feel better
- Take a probiotic with your antibiotic to restore your gut health and help you fight further infections.
Do you have health questions? Write me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Managing editor, Living Well Daily Insider
 Biggest Threats
Written By Natalie Moore
Natalie Moore is a dedicated health researcher with a passion for finding healthy, natural, and science-based solutions. After a decade of direct healthcare experience in western and natural medicine, she was involved in public health research before joining Living Well Daily.
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