This is a video that will haunt your nightmares:
Go to NPR‘s story on this for a narrated version of the video — and you’ll find that what you see is a bacterial colony developing extraordinary capacities for antibiotic resistance in a shockingly short time — two weeks, or a little less, to go from a naive, wild-type strain to varieties that can resist 1,000 times or more the dosage that killed almost all of the original microbes.
The video is part of the supporting material for a paper published this week in Science . In a way, there’s nothing new, or rather, nothing surprising here. Microbial resistance to antibiotics is a phenomenon as old as antibiotics themselves. (See Alexander Fleming’s Nobel Prize speech, for example).
What’s revealed in this video — and the reseach behind it, of course — is the obvious. We ain’t going to win any war with bacteria anytime soon. But in this political season, I’d add another thought:
There are some things at stake in this election that matter rather more than whether one candidate used a not-according-to-Hoyle email server. Among them are matters of life and death — and not just in the usual sense of decisions about national security or similar matters. One party, one candidate takes science seriously right now. The other doesn’t. Vote like your — and your kids’ — lives depend on it.
I know Hillary believes in science… that’s why she was wearing that lab coat at the DNC in Phila
I hear nuclear energy is a great sterilizer. Oodles of gamma and x-rays. With Trump at the helm, look forward to lots and lots of gamma rays killing all those terrorist bacteria. Perhaps some collateral damage (~7 billion peeps or so), but you cant make an egg without cracking a few omelets.
yarr, that’ll be replacin’ the shark in me nightmares.
But but but Hellary is so mean and nasty. Why, my Uncle Ed facebooked me some evidence that she even murdered people!
And besides, those bad sciencey things you are warning about only happen to those other people.
Hi, I wanted to thank everyone for their help when I posted that illustrated book about Bill Clinton and his fascination with the balloons at the DNC over a month ago. Especially JR in WV among others. I actually made a Kindle book out of it and uploaded it to Amazon. But I wanted to include the Kindle book (mobi format) for anyone who’d want it, as well as the PDF, which, oddly enough, is one-third the size of the mobi file. I was hoping anyone would want to read it and leave reviews about it on Amazon. You can search it in the Kindle book section of Amazon under its name, “Bill Gets A Balloon.” Thank you again everyone and here are the dropbox links for anyone who’d want to get a copy. The copies are free and are yours to share if you want to. First link is the mobi file and second link is the PDF file if anyone doesn’t have a Kindle.
Thanks for letting me know about the nightmares to expect. Republicans won’t even approve funding for the Zika virus without defunding health care for poor people. Nothing will change because we have boats and planes to build.
@JPL: well lets not forget their other cogent demand, that they be allowed to fly the flags of the Confederacy in national cemeteries…. as if the US Flag wasn’t good enough.
My wife’s grandfather died of a systemic nosocomial MRSA twelve years ago. I have a family history of open heart surgery. I have a four year old child. Antibiotic resistance and the tragedy of the commons that permitted it to dominate is not a theoretical concern for me.
Major Major Major Major
There’s a Vonnegut book where he talks about a short story that’s about how bacteria have been manipulating humanity all along to help them develop more and more antibiotics and poisons so that the bacteria can evolve faster. They also encourage us to explore space so they can move.
For the short term I would be happy if it were easier to find antibiotics-free liquid hand soap at the store. Baby steps and all that.
(*Been getting by on my huge refill bottle of the stuff for awhile, so haven’t checked the shelves lately. Maybe things ARE improving on that front of late, dunno.)
Tom, have you read Ed Yong’s “I Contain Multitudes” yet?
I would like to see a reporter/blogger prank either Trumpy or one of his more obnoxious spokesmodels with a non-existent disease being brought in by refugees from a non-existent country. Tell them how Obama hasn’t done anything about Kleinepinisitis that the refugees from Ajideekhistan are bringing and what Trump would do.
I want them to run a similar test but instead of increased strengths of the same antibiotic there would be stripes of different antibioics. Then again but wit multiple antibiotics all mixed so that the survivors would have to be resistant to all of them at once.
This is important work to me as I have had a resistant uti for a year now.
@piratedan: Why would anyone want to fly the flag of a treasonous “nation” in Federally owned cemeteries? Does not make a lick of sense. There is only one American flag and the Confederate flag ain’t it.
@BGinCHI: Have it at home. Haven’t cracked it yet. Ed’s great, and a wonderful speaker, and if you check out his website, you can see if/when he’s touring the book near you. He’s in Seattle today for any appropriately located Juicers.
Major Major Major Major
@Patricia Kayden: of course it makes sense. They’re still fighting the civil war.
The repubs have continually reinforced the message that government is bad so I guess it’s not a surprise that they no longer know what good government is and it shows in the intelligence of the people they elect and put up for election. Couple that with their apparently authoritarian leaning sympathies (according to some study that came a little while ago) and a controversial dem candidate and here we are: on the cusp of electing a dictator with bad hair. I find it depressingly comical the mental gyrations that they are going through to accept some of Trump’s beliefs. The Putin lovefest makes all of their professed loyalty to the Constitution look like just another marketing ploy to get votes.
Well, what’s your definition of winning? We’re certainly not going to get rid of all pathogenic bacteria. The idea is and always has been insane. Permanently obtain easy antibiotic medical treatments? Not currently visible, but not out of the question. Maintain our present level of antibiotic treatments? Likely. I wish it was certain.
Speaking as someone who comes from a science background (my degrees are in molecular biology and immunology, although I switched careers and now work in the arts), I am constantly disgusted by the anti-science strain of denialism and ignorance that seems to have become entrenched in society. I know that to some degree it’s part and parcel of the sort of anti-intellectual tribalism that’s been fostered by conservative and religious spheres. I’m not sure how to combat it, although I think you just have to keep putting out information and hoping that constantly standing up for science literacy makes some inroads. I find it dismaying that while conservatives and populists are pissing their pants over ISIS and brown people swarming our borders, the real, actual, provable dangers that will kills us and our children are completely ignored — or actively promoted as false — by these people who yammer on about keeping us safe.
Anti-vaxxers, climate change denialists, anti-gov types who rail against government regulations that could keep antibiotics out of the food chain or lead out of our water….well, the list goes on. It’s very frustrating to see priorities so absolutely backwards.
@Tom Levenson: Gonna see him if I can when he’s here. Thanks for the reminder.
The book is really terrific. We are in a Golden Age of science writing, if not public awareness.
Did you ask if he likes the fact that Putin murders people – it shows he is strong? Why not for Hillary?
There are LOTS of American flags: Costa Rican, Mexican, Guatemalan, Brazilian….
There is one US flag.
It is a lazy assumption that American means the US.
Talk about leading from behind. I wish these guys would have a fraction of the courage and toughness they think they do.
“I am not going to go down that path,” the Senate GOP’s No. 2, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), said Thursday when asked by a reporter if he would say that Obama has been better for America than Putin has been for Russia.
@sharl: Doctor Bronner’s is available in a lot of places. It’s kind of hippyish, but it smells nice and cleans well.
The fungi will save us.
(Or, at least, help.)
@Major Major Major Major: The bacteria (or viruses) that make mice easier targets for cats by changing the mice brains are impressive. Kind of a proof of concept.
@Major Major Major Major:
I take it they don’t see the contradiction between flying the Confederate battle flag now and belonging to the party of the President who made war on those flying it back in the day.
The gamma rays will transform the Donald into Hulk Trump.
No one wants that.
@Major Major Major Major: Like the parasite that cat’s carry and how it readily infects humans; apparently increases suicide among humans in a significant manner.
As for antibiotic resistance, the good news is that there are viral treatments (popular in Russia) that effectively work against many bad bacteria and, unlike antibiotics, the bacteria can’t really develop resistance since viruses can mutate rather fast themselves to counter such resistance. Of course, I speculate that big Pharm doesn’t see any real big profit potential in this approach so it isn’t done here..
@Amir Khalid: Correct! They think they are super patriots for flying the traitors flag.
Consistency not a strong suit.
@Mark B: I used to buy Doctor Bronner’s soaps, though it’s a bit of a drive for me to get to an actual store that offers it. I need to keep them in mind though.
You could be mistaken. I heard on the NPR a report on human gut viruses as a store of health – and there are so many more gut viruses than bacteria.
If you assume that America means ‘white people’, then they are patriots. From that perspective, they’re declaring their opposition to a takeover by non-Americans.
Antibiotic resistant bacteria, now this is what I deal with daily as a Microbiologist in hospital lab.
There you go, thinking like a liberal.
Don’t you know that the confederates should have won?
Their side had something, something, something on it. Oh I know hate, bigotry, slavery.
Teixobactin is a new antibiotic being developed at Northeasten U. It is a new generation of antibiotics and it is currently believed it will not trigger redistance in bacteria. It is still a couple years from production but it is effective against C. Diff and tuberculousis. The work could lead to several new antibiotics.
So… Louie Gohmert says that Hilz is ‘mentally impaired’ after a concussion. What can I say. Honest to goodness, I’d really prefer to give up snark, but we live in a target-rich environment.
I was told about 3 months ago that E-Coli infections in hospitals was almost unknown 5-10 yrs ago. And now it is not uncommon. And believe me when I tell you, you do not want to acquire one. Not in any way pleasant. Or anything close to it.
I was having a conversation with a colleague about how scientific methods should apply to public policy as well – we were talking about the implementation of Common Core, where they basically changed a bunch of variables all at once, and now we’re supposed to suss out from one measurement – test scores – whether it is a better method for students to learn. It’s mind-boggling. The Dems could do a better job on this front, too, but at least they aren’t, as a party, actively resistant to science.
@NYCMT: And I bet the true cause was not on the death certificate. I know it wasn’t when my dad died of a nosocomial MRSA from a knee operation (in fine, out in a body bag, 18 days later). It turned his lungs to Swiss cheese due to his smoking habit, which he’d quit 10 years prior. The doctors do NOT put MRSA on those certificates and therefore these infections are vastly UNDER counted as the cause of deaths. There are way the hell more than tens of thousands per year.
Please fix the problem, so it will go away. TIA. #Team_Edith … #Edith_Strong
@Schlemazel: They do that now in real time, no need for an experiment in a lab. The experiment is being run in every factory farm in the US.
@catclub: Of course I could be mistaken about big Pharm not investigating virus therapy due to lack of profits but kinda lost by your addition about gut virus’s; of course we carry many types of virus in our guts but how does that relate to what I was talking about?
@sharl: F.D.A. Bans Sale of Many Antibacterial Soaps, Saying Risks Outweigh Benefits
@Mark B: Bronners is the shit, my entire family uses it
Major Major Major Major
@catclub: @Cermet: Toxoplasma gondii, has very noticeable effects on rodents, but alas its effects on humans has been massively overhyped by popular media.
The best we’ve gotten so far is an “association” of infection with certain psychological markers. So it’s possible but we haven’t really demonstrated much of anything rigorously.
Pretty cool little thing though. It can only reproduce in the digestive system of a cat, so it makes rodents behave in a manner more likely to make them eaten by a cat.
ETA: And, in re: human infection, none of the behaviors associated with infection would explain France.
I think we need to carefully define what it means to take science seriously.
We all know the repubs are off the wall on this. The question is whether the dems are that much better – my millennial children don’t think Clinton takes science seriously either because she’s not talking about climate change.
if Clinton is looking for the votes of young people she can’t pick a much better issue than real action on climate.
@catclub: Just a word of advice from a Canadian………don’t call us Americans. Thanks.
I am unaware that they give multiple, mixed antibiotics simultaneously. I do know that there are 4 or 5 very common ones that are generously given to cows and pigs because it makes them put on weight faster. It is part of the problem. I just have never heard of them giving multiple types at once.
There was a great post at Emptywheel yesterday, using the body-horror scenes from Ridley Scott’s Alien and especially Prometheus to illustrate the callous ignorance, cruelty and cowardice of the GOP in regards to Zika and the pregnancies endangered by it. “Sorry, we’re only programmed to understand the health concerns of men.”
Read the whole thing, my blockquote doesn’t do it justice.
Come on! We all know you are hoping to become the 51st state!
@catclub: Toxomplasma gondii also affects pregnant humans and their fetuses. It isn’t just harmful for mice.
@Hob: So glad you brought that up! I had heard that news but totally forgot it when typing up my comment.
From Hob’s NYT link:
Very good news!
So we have to deny PP funding to fight it also?
@Gindy51: Which is one reason why I am willing to spend my food budget on organic, farm-raised-with-no-antibiotics, chicken, and on wild-caught fish, and why in general I won’t eat red meat or fast food meat, and why I eat a lot of vegetables. And, yes, I know that one person’s choices in this direction have about as much effect on Big Food as driving a Prius does on Big Energy, but it’s not just a political choice, it’s a health choice as well.
@Schlemazel: They do where I live (SE IN) I don’t think they are supposed but no one checks so they do whatever they want. Anything to fatten up those critters before they go to the slaughter house is fine by them. I do not allow my dogs into our back yard creek… I know what is up stream so no way.
@Schlemazel: No way, send PP the whole defense department budget as far as I am concerned.
@Cermet: There is increasing interest and commercial development of phages in the U.S. I see more and more references to it as time goes on.
@sharl: Now if they’d only ban the triclosan in toothpaste…
[Shh, they already are, they just don’t know it yet.]
@sharl: not much I can do about it. I’m not in research. Hospitals take “universal precautions” at all times with all patients, for our protections and theirs. When a patient comes in and they are known to have multi-drug resistant bacteria, we notify physicians…the infection control department get involved and then is becomes not just universal precautions, but also “isolation precautions”.
One of the reason folks believe cause antibiotic resistance is the overuse of broad spectrum antibiotics (essentially bacteria blasters) instead of targeted, so every microbiology lab I’ve worked in test a variety of drug classes on bacteria but we only report a targeted antibiotic for each drug class. If the physician wants a different drug that we didn’t chart copy, then he has to consult with not only the PharmD, but also the Infection Disease doc before going beyond what we charted.
Of course with multi-drug resistant organisms, the drug charted is alot stronger than usual
Did you hear the news? The FDA just banned antibacterial additives in hand soaps! They said there’s no evidence of effectiveness, and that resistance makes the additives less useful for legitimate purposes where they are effective.
So this may be much easier for you in the near future.
(I think those agents are not considered antibiotics, per se. But some of the same concerns apply.)
(Never mind, I see this was covered further up.)
@NorthLeft12: How about North Americans?
I think USians should be a thing. Mexicans and Brazilians and USians and Canadians are all Americans.
@Schlemazel: America’s hat!
Canada’s pants! Oh look! Someone forgot to zip up!
@Schlemazel: Looks interesting, but it appears currently to be solely a cultured product. Getting to a total synthesis of that molecule could be interesting.
One note, while checking the wiki on the compound, this sentence popped up, which is a nice little indictment of Big Pharma
Translation: no sense putting money into something if we’re unlikely to recoup our investment, plus interest. Greater good, my ass.
@Faction: Anti-biotic resistance is a women’s issue as well. When we talk about the decline in maternal deaths being due to “modern medicine,” what we are talking about is antibiotics. I’ve tried pointing that out to friends when talking about the overuse of antibiotics, but there is way too much of the it might help my kid, so screw the rest of the world. Which is at the base of a great deal of the anti science world view, isn’t it?
JR in WV
“don’t see the contradiction” is one of their founding principles by which they live their lives.
“Screw everyone who’s not us” (with “us” being defined on a per-issue basis) is the heart of pretty much the entire Republican worldview.
Gohmert? That asshole idiot wouldn’t know what air is if it smacked him in the face.
Read recently that ghonnorea is pretty much medicine resistant now.
I, for one, welcome our giant city-destroying mutant reptile overlords.
1,000 Flouncing Lurkers (was fidelioscabinet)
@Stan: And you can buy it in the gallon size for extra savings–and then fill up every soap dispenser in the house.
“USians” doesn’t work so well, as Mexico is technically called the United Mexican States.
while we’re being pedantic.
Straight forward Biology: organism under incredible Darwinian pressure evolves resistance.
Of course you have to both understand and accept the Theory of Evolution to ‘get it’ which leaves 60% of Americans going, “D’oh?”
She did at DNC.
She did during the primary.
And she’s got it on her issues page.
She could stand to talk about it more often (when she’s not answering another damn email question!) but it’s hard to say whether saying what she needs to win and avoid the trumpocalypse is more or less urgent than reminding people we’ve got to do what’s necessary to avoid climate disaster.
@Schlemazel: you probably would end up with bacteria carrying plasmids that encode for multiple resistances. that’s basically what has happened in the real world.