Earlier today, Dr. Tom Frieden director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published an opinion piece on CNN.com.
In it, he talks about the vulnerability of the world today and says some interesting things.
First off, he states “Someone could unleash
a deadly, genetically modified microbe that we can’t fight.” He adds, “Nothing has the potential to kill more people than influenza.”
From that, he proceeds to tell the interesting story of an outbreak that was narrowly averted in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda. Fortunately, the death count was curtailed at three, but only because health care workers reacted so quickly and properly.
A large part of the problem, which he goes into a little further in the article, is the fact antibiotics are less effective than ever, if they even still work. The rise of the “superbug,” drug resistant infections that turn simple infections deadly. Bacteria already have CDC threat levels attached, with the example given of CRE or carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae. This strain of bacteria can resist all antibiotics, is easily spread and kills a high proportion of the people it infects.
Dr. Frieden talks about the simplicity in dealing with the issue and sums it up nicely with three words. Find. Stop. Prevent.
Find out whats harming people
Figure out how to stop these harms
Put programs in place to prevent other people from being harmed and then monitor them.
Part of the reason for the increasing number of drug resistant superbugs is the overuse and misuse of antibiotics. Dr. Frieden states, “We can all help by not demanding antibiotics from our doctors and by taking antibiotics only and exactly as prescribed. Get smart and know when antibiotics do or don’t work.”
This is not a long read, but it is an interesting one and the example he gives, mentioned above, shows how close we come to potentially deadly outbreaks.