I'm discussing a near-term lethal threat to mankind and a bleak future.
In the Year 2020A young girl cuts her hand while peeling a potato. She wipes the swelling blood onto her pants and continues working. A few hours later when she has time she rinses the cut in the bathroom and returns to work, only her hand is hurting more instead of less.
By the next day she is feverish, her entire hand is swollen to twice its normal size and she's developed a chest cough. She calls in sick and goes to the emergency room. It's crowded and the long hours of waiting in the cramped room become too much. Too sick to remain sitting up, she stumbles to the corner and lays on the floor. Four hours later when her name is called, she doesn't respond, so they move on to the next patient.
Near Midnight the cleaning lady pushes her dirty mop over the floors. She scolds the girl to move so she can do her job. A nudge to the hand causes it to split apart. White fluid oozes onto her shoe. She hurries to the nurses desk and reports the event.
The nurse declares the young girl dead. In an autopsy six hours later, long after the cleaning lady has gone home, they determine the girl is full of a bacteria that is resistant to all known antibiotics. The hospital goes in shut down, but it is too late. Over twenty people came in contact with the girl and have now contaminated all of Las Vegas. More than 700 planes have come and gone since the bacteria entered the girl's minor cut.
The epidemic has begun and we've no way to stop it. The strand is impervious to every antibiotic we have. Now even a simple scratch will kill you.
Looking back to the short era when antibiotics worked.
In the year 1928 Penicillin was discovered and by 1948 it was commercially manufactured.
All too quickly, antibiotics became the cure all for everything, and often those who needed to take them ceased when they felt better, instead of when all the bacteria within them was dead. And thus began the race between antibiotics and bacteria as to which will win the final battle.
Since then a great deal of other antibiotics have been created trying to keep ahead of the constantly mutating bacteria. The latest group, oxadiazoles, were discovered this year and are hoped to help kill MRSA, which has become resistant to almost everything.
But the truth is, we are losing this war at every turn. Our 'wins' just end up making the bacteria stronger and deadlier.
The World Health Organization warns we could soon enter a post antibiotic era where even a small scratch will prove lethal.
Some of the diseases that worry them: Gonorrhea, Klebsiella pneumoniae, an intestional bacteria that can kill newborns and those in intensive care. uriniary track infections, Tuberculosis, HIV, malaria.
This future is not hundreds of years from now. It is right around the corner, in our life time. It is a scary world where lives will shorten and people will be more sickly until only those with the best of immune systems will survive. But will our strongest be strong enough to fight these mutant bacteria we have unintentionally created through our lax use of antibiotics? Or will the human race be taken out by the smallest of enemies?
Given our future is never certain. My advice is to live every day as if it's your last, to enjoy each moment to the fullest, and love life while we can.
And don't abuse your use of antibiotics.