The article starts off with the tragic story of a young girl who survives a staph infection – but only just and she will always need medical help. Ten years ago she would have survived without a scratch… but today there is only one product left that can treat this infection, and it has nasty side-effects.
As recently as a decade ago, Addie’s story would have been a shocking anomaly, the kind of case that comes along once in any doctor’s life.
But after years of futile warnings from scientists that overuse of antibiotics was causing bacteria to evolve into strains resistant to drugs, experts in the field say we have reached a tipping point, and some deadly pathogens are becoming incurable. “We are confronting one of the gravest threats to public health that we have ever faced,” said Dr. Lance Price, a professor at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services who specializes in studying resistant bacteria. “We are entering a place we don’t want to be, with people dying of infections that could have treated in the past.”
There are many anecdotes shared, all about people who would have been successfully treated until recently:
A few months ago, she consulted on a case of a woman suffering from a resistant bacterial infection of her gall bladder. There were no antibiotics that could treat her; with no options, the patient was sent to hospice so she could die comfortably. A plastic surgeon she knows also had a horrifying case: A knee replacement implant in a patient had collected untreatable bacteria. Doctors were forced to amputate the leg to prevent the infection from spreading any further.
It isn’t just when infections are the primary problem. Some medical procedures will become to difficult unless antibiotics can be trusted to work. It is looking like heart transplants will no longer be tenable. And worse, no more chemotherapy.