By Robert Folsom | November 1, 2013
The PBS documentary series “Frontline” aired a show on October 22 about the growing threat of “superbugs,” the deadly bacteria that resist antibiotic medicines.
“Hunting the Nightmare Bacteria” was the show’s title — yet after watching it, I concluded “Being Hunted BY Nightmare Bacteria” is a lot closer to the truth.
That is because superbugs are now more than simply resistant to antibiotics. To resist is to play defense, which superbugs have clearly learned to do. But what makes them so nefarious and hard to treat is that they literally have learned how to play offense.
“Frontline” correspondent David Hoffman explains:
[Superbugs] have certain characteristics in which they can fight off antibiotics — like an armored shell around the bacteria that defends it or the ability to pump out the antibiotics…. [Superbugs also] have the ability to literally coach other bacteria how to be resistant to antibiotics. So they’re beginning to transfer this resistance ability to other types of bacteria, spreading resistance even more.
As for the growing scale of the threat:
The CDC estimated on Sept. 15 that these resistant bugs have led to two million infections per year among Americans and 23,000 deaths… that’s more deaths than occur from HIV/AIDS in the United States every year.
…this ‘nightmare’ bacteria — 10 years ago, 12 years ago, they weren’t anywhere in the United States. And now they’re in more than 40 states.
In other words, back around the year 2000. What else was happening back around then? The stock market turned south, and so did long-term social mood.
Medical science has understood the danger of overusing antibiotics for well over two decades. In the mid-1990s, Bob Prechter himself noted “society’s negative emotional state” and vulnerability to “drug-resistant bacteria.”
More recently, The Socionomist has published numerous articles on the profound link between social mood and epidemic disease, beginning with Alan Hall’s study in May 2009. His latest (and most hair-raising) study was in the March 2013 issue, which explained why “society’s susceptibility continues to rise.”