December 29, 2015
Bacteria Apocalypse As Gonorrhea Strains Found Resistant To Treatments, Humans Could Be Plunged Back Into 'Dark Ages' Of Medicine [Graphic Image]

The end of days is near for the entire human race, which could be plunged thousands of years back into the days when people died on average in their 30s from common bacterial infections that are becoming ever more resistant to penicillin-based antibiotics. Due to the mass inoculation of animals for the meat industry combined with the over-prescription of antibiotics for people with viral infections and now the advent of super bugs, particularly strains of gonorrhea, are resisting first line treatments and even all treatments in limited cases.

If this trend continued for all bacterial infections, humans would quickly lose their ability to fight off infection by means of antibiotics, which are primarily responsible for extending the lives of humans as well as significantly decreasing infant mortality rates.

How did this happen?

One reason is that we have become obsessed with sterilizing our environment.

Another reason is the distribution of antibiotics in the food chain of farm animals and humans.

Antibiotic resistance chart
There is a chain of related bio-events which create bacteria superstrains. [Image by By CDC [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons]The main reason this is happening, however, is that bacteria are evolving in real time to overcome current antibiotics. No matter how long we postpone the widespread resistance, the resistance will eventually come if other drugs are not developed to take their place.

In a recent article, the NHS describes how E.coli bacteria from food samples taken in China had developed resistance to the "last line" of defense against bacteria, a drug called colistin – a polymixin antibiotic.

As bacteria mutate quickly, the widespread resistance of common treatable diseases like gonorrhea will mean humans will be thrust back into the dark ages as infections are left untreated and surgeries can no longer be performed as there would be no way to stop infections.

What are antibiotics?

  • Antibiotics are medicines that can ​destroy ​harmful ​bacteria or ​limit ​their ​growth
  • The first antibiotic was invented by Alexander Fleming in 1928
  • In 1945 Fleming got a Nobel Prize for Medicine
  • He was already warning about antibiotic resistance
A number of conditions can be treated using antibiotics. Without treatment, however, common infections are left to do their worst.

Syphilis (Left Untreated)

Other infections, such as tuberculosis, or other common infections of the ears, nose and throat, as well as from common cuts, could result in a high fever and even death as the bacteria spreads unchallenged, evolved to be extra resilient from being over-subjected to antibacterial agents.

At this point in time, we would need to sterilize everything for fear of spreading what once would have been harmless symbiotic bacteria commonly found in the environment. Those already infected would need to be quarantine and would die of their infections alone in a plastic bubble.

In fact, we would all have to start living in plastic bubbles to protect us from each other and the environment. Forget holding hands or kissing. Child birth could only happen in a laboratory under completely sterile conditions, as babies would be t risk of catching a fatal infection from their mother during normal childbirth.

What is being done?

There are alternative solutions including using nano-technology (mini robots) which can seek out the bacteria and kill it, then allow itself to be harmlessly passed. Finding another class of antibiotics is estimated at 10 years and $300 million, meaning that measures to preserve the integrity of current antibiotics are necessary if we are to develop the next generation of bacteria fighting agents which kill the bacteria, but leave our human cells alone.

The only way to do this effectively, however, is to end the meat industry as we know it as well as end the commercial sales of antibiotic wipes and hand washes. Doctors would need to stop prescribing antibiotics for viral infections.

With all the other possible ways humans are at risk, the antibiotic resistance threat is very real and unavoidable without considerable effort making a bacteria apocalypse ever more likely.

[Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images]