Earlier today, I found this well written article on the era of antibiotics by Maryn McKenna (Published November 20, 2013). While I’m not sure I agree with everything in it – and have been spending time tracking down some publications to support or refute some data cited here (particularly in regards to the use of antibiotics in agricultural animals), the summary of how antibiotics were first discovered and used and how researchers including Flemming feared an end of antibiotic usefulness, paints a vivid portrait of the problem at hand.
While we might typically think of antibiotics as being prescribed in a clinic following a positive test for strep throat or some other bacterial infection, that is just one example of their use. One element of this paper that I found particularly insightful was how easily overlooked are the myriad uses of antibiotics in situations such as surgical procedures or following chemo- / radiation therapy.
British health economists … recently calculated the costs of antibiotic resistance. To examine how it would affect surgery, they picked hip replacements, a common procedure in once-athletic Baby Boomers. They estimated that without antibiotics, one out of every six recipients of new hip joints would die.
Let me know what you think.