More powerful than most viruses; able to ward off antibiotics in massive doses, faster spreading than Mono in a room filled with horny teenagers: It’s a germ; it’s a bacteria; it’s a Superbug! Yes, here we go again. Researchers have discovered yet another superbug that is a rare strain of the methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus arueus or MRSA. This superbug was found in some milk samples in the United Kingdom. Now, before anyone panics, scientists say that this new bacteria poses little threat to people who drink milk or eat dairy products, since pasteurization and digestion kill bacteria, including MRSA.
However, scientists are stumped as to the origins and strength of this new strain. I think science needs to take a new approach to these superbugs. I think they should stop looking at them from a research point of view and start looking at them from a criminal point of view. Here is my plan:
Call in the cops of CSI or the FBI or maybe enact a new crime division, the SBI– the Superbug Investigations unit. I think the unit’s primary mission should be to round up the “normal” well-known non-superbugs and bring them in for questioning and get them to turn against the all-powerful new superbug. I’m not talking torture with rubber hoses here, but maybe a small dose of antibiotics just to loosen their tongues. Then the SBI can play on the non-superbugs’ resentment that the new bacteria is getting all the press and attention. The once-but-no-longer-antibiotic-resistant bugs will look at this investigation as a way to take down the new superbug whose ego has now become too big for its own Petri dish. The non-superbugs might give scientists a glimpse into the mind and power of the new superbug that has both the human species and the bacteria world shaking in their boots.
Okay, I know this criminal investigation scenario is impossible, but what are our alternatives? Every six months, science informs us that another superbug has arrived on the scene. The new strain brings with it a paralyzing fear that stops us from eating certain foods, visiting certain places or embracing other human beings. We have become a world that lives for antiseptic soap and lotion rather than the comfort of another’s touch. Something has got to give. If we don’t figure out the world of superbugs, the next fashion craze will be hazmat suits in a variety of colors.
I think our problem started with the idea that our immune systems cannot function on their own. Sure, there are times when we need a little help getting over a sinus or respiratory infection, but we have become antibiotic whores looking for the quickest trick to get well again. Now, we are paying the price with superbugs that stand up and laugh at our efforts to control them.
I wonder what would happen if we put our antibacterial lotion dispensers away. Now, I am not saying the health profession should not use them, but maybe we shouldn’t have them everywhere. We need to get our immune systems back to exercising each day. They have shrunk as our bodies have gotten bigger. Maybe if we get them working again, our immune systems might feel like doing their jobs; they might want to become superheroes in the fight against the villainous superbugs.
So, does this sound like a good idea to you? Well, don’t get too excited. I have absolutely no scientific credentials that would make anything I say plausible. All I have going for me are a few medical shows on the Discovery Channel and some Wikipedia articles. So, I may not know much, but what I do know is that we have to find the superbugs’ kryptonite because if we don’t, the sales associate at Macy’s might be saying to you, “That blue hazmat suit goes great with your eyes.”
photo by UVM.edu