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‘We’ve reached the end of antibiotics’: Top CDC expert declares that ‘miracle drugs’ that have saved millions are no match against ‘superbugs’ because people have overmedicated themselves

By  Snejana Farberov

PUBLISHED: 00:30 EST, 26  October 2013 |  UPDATED: 01:17 EST, 26 October 2013

Health crisis: Dr Arjun Srinivasan, the associate director of the CDC, told PBS' Frontline that misuse and overuse of antibiotics over the years have rendered them powerless to fight infections  

Health crisis: Dr Arjun Srinivasan, the associate  director of the CDC, told PBS’ Frontline that misuse and overuse of antibiotics  over the years have rendered them powerless to fight infections

 

A high-ranking official with the Centers for  Disease Control and Prevention has declared in an interview with PBS that the  age of antibiotics has come to an end.

‘For a long time, there have been newspaper  stories and covers of magazines that talked about “The end of antibiotics,  question mark?”‘ said Dr Arjun Srinivasan. ‘Well, now I would say you can change  the title to “The end of antibiotics, period.”’

The associate director of the CDC sat down  with Frontline over the summer for a lengthy  interview about the growing problem of antibacterial resistance.

Srinivasan, who is also featured in a  Frontline report called ‘Hunting the Nightmare Bacteria,’ which aired  Tuesday, said that both humans and livestock have been overmedicated to such a  degree that bacteria are now resistant to antibiotics.

‘We’re in the post-antibiotic era,’ he said.  ‘There are patients for whom we have no therapy, and we are literally in a  position of having a patient in a bed who has an infection, something that five  years ago even we could have treated, but now we can’t.’.

Dr Srinivasan offered an example of this  notion, citing the recent case of three Tampa Bay Buccaneers players who made  headlines after reportedly contracting potentially deadly MRSA infections, which  until recently were largely restricted to hospitals.

About 10 years ago, however, the CDC official  began seeing outbreaks of different kinds of MRSA infections in schools and  gyms.

‘In hospitals, when you see MRSA infections,  you oftentimes see that in patients who have a catheter in their blood, and that  creates an opportunity for MRSA to get into their bloodstream,’ he said.

Nightmare superbug: Srinivasan said that about 10 years ago, he began seeing outbreaks of different kinds of MRSA infections, which previously had been limited to hospitals, in schools and gyms 

Nightmare superbug: Srinivasan said that about 10 years  ago, he began seeing outbreaks of different kinds of MRSA infections, which  previously had been limited to hospitals, in schools and gyms

 

‘In the community, it was causing a very  different type of infection. It was causing a lot of very, very serious and  painful infections of the skin, which was completely different from what we  would see in health care.’

With bacteria constantly evolving and  developing resistance to conventional antibiotics, doctors have been forced to  ‘reach back into the archives’ and ‘dust off’ older, more dangerous cures like  colistin.

 

WHAT ARE ANTIBIOTICS?

Antibiotics, also known as antibacterials,  are types of drugs that destroy or slow down the growth of  bacteria.

Antibiotics are used to treat infections  caused by bacteria. Bacteria are microscopic organisms, some of which may cause  illness.

Before bacteria can multiply and cause  symptoms, the body’s immune system can usually destroy them. But if white blood  cells fail to fight off the infection, antibiotics can help.

The first antibiotic was penicillin, which  was discovered in 1928 by Scottish Professor Alexander Fleming.

Such penicillin-related antibiotics as  ampicillin, amoxicillin and benzylpenicilllin are widely used today to treat a  variety of infections.

Source: Medical News  Today

 

 

‘It’s very toxic,’ said Srinivasan. ‘We don’t  like to use it. It damages the kidneys. But we’re forced to use it in a lot of  instances.’

The expert went on, saying that the discovery  of antibiotics in 1928 by Professor Alexander Fleming revolutionized medicine,  allowing doctors to treat hundreds of millions of people suffering from  illnesses that had been considered terminal for centuries.

Antibiotics also paved the way for successful  organ transplants, chemotherapy, stem cell and bone marrow transplantations –  all the procedures that weaken the immune system and make the body susceptible  to infections.

However, the CDC director explained that  people have fueled the fire of bacterial resistance through rampant overuse and  misuse of antibiotics.

‘These drugs are miracle drugs, these  antibiotics that we have, but we haven’t taken good care of them over the 50  years that we’ve had them,’ he told Frontline.

Srinivasan added that pharmaceutical  companies are at least partially to blame for this problem, saying that they  have neglected the development of new and more sophisticated antibiotics that  could keep up with bacterial resistance because ‘there’s not much money to be  made’ in this field.

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