In the recent past, there have been growing concerns about the number of deaths that have been attributed to antibiotic resistance. Antibiotic resistance is the ability of illness-causing microorganisms to resist the effects of conventional preventive medicine. These concerns are indeed valid, with the World Health Organization (WHO) estimating that around 150,000 deaths are occurring annually due to multi-drug resistance in the case of Tuberculosis alone. Considering the benefits, that humanity has derived from vaccination for the past century or so, likening the risk to terrorism, as a number of people have done, would not be deemed exaggeratory.
The situation that we are now finding ourselves in can be attributed to some of the practices that we ourselves have carried out over time. Abuse of drugs within hospitals has continually shifted power in favor of the pathogens as they continued to grow more and more resistant. In addition, with the food chain being dotted with traces of antibiotics, which have been injected into livestock, it was only a matter of time before these pathogens started laughing in our faces.
However, not all hope is lost. Earlier this week, a modified version of the bill Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA) was introduced in Congress. It seeks to limit the use of antibiotics on livestock. Presently, about 80% of antibiotics manufactured are for use in livestock, mainly to increase their growth rate or to cover for poor sanitation conditions. It aims at limiting their use to only therapeutic uses. This is very important, since should the current use of antibiotics on livestock continue, humans will continue to take in small quantities of these antibiotics as we enjoy products from the livestock. In effects the bacteria will continue to modify, becoming more and more resistant to antibiotics until eventually, vaccines will be described worthless.