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Antibiotics and the Revenge of the Superbugs

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November 2, 2017 by John Crapper

Antibiotics have helped millions if not billions of people. But the more they are used the stronger the bacteria they fight get.

 

Superbugs are strains of bacteria that are resistant to several types of antibiotics. Each year these drug-resistant bacteria infect more than 2 million people nationwide and kill at least 23,000, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Drug-resistant forms of tuberculosis, gonorrhea, and staph infections are just a few of the dangers we now face.

The spread of superbugs—bacteria that have changed in ways that render antibiotics ineffective against them—is a serious and growing threat around the world, according to the World Health Organization’s first global report on antibiotic resistance.

 

screen-shot-2016-11-19-at-5-02-55-pmWe often think of sewage treatment plants as serving to protect us and get rid of all those disease causing elements in wastewater. But it turns out some of these superbugs are eating sewage and recent studies indicate that sewage treatment plants are unable to kill them and are, in fact, making them stronger.  And that is not all. The treatment plants are also helping the superbugs spread by releasing the effluent into the environment.

Take for example

NDM-1

 NDM-1 refers to a gene that is carried by some bacteria. A bacterial strain that carries the NDM-1 gene will be resistant to even some of the strongest antibiotics. There are no current antibiotics to combat bacteria that have the NDM-1 gene, and this makes it potentially very dangerous.

NDM-1 stands for New Delhi metallo-ß-lactamase

Klebsiella pneumoniae, the bacterium in which NDM-1 was first identified.

Previous research has shown that bacteria containing the NDM-1 gene were largely ineffective at transferring the gene to other bacteria. However, recent research has found that bacteria carrying these genes can spread the gene to otherwise benign bacteria—meaning the gene can spread antibiotic resistance outside of sewage treatment plants. “It’s scary. There’s no antibiotic that can kill them,” says Alvarez. “We only realized they exist just a little while ago when a Swedish man got infected in India, in New Delhi. Now, people are beginning to realize that more and more tourists trying to go to the upper waters of the Ganges River are getting these infections that cannot be treated.”

One scientist estimates that 200 million people carry NDM-1 in their intestines.

These findings underscore the need for governments and hospitals to limit their use of antibiotics consumption among both humans and farm animals.

They also underscore the need for a major rethink of our sanitation systems.

Looking at our excrement not as waste that needs to be treated, but as a resource needing to be put to full use, is the key to an ass-forward approach to the whole issue of sanitation.

ECOLOGICAL SANITATION – “ECO-SAN”

Ecological sanitation (Ecosan) offers a new philosophy of dealing with what is presently regarded as waste and wastewater. Ecosan systems enable the recovery of nutrients from human feces and urine for the benefit of agriculture, thus helping to preserve soil fertility, assure food security for future generations, minimize water pollution and recover bio-energy. They ensure that water is used economically and is recycled in a safe way for purposes such as irrigation or groundwater recharge.

The main objectives of ecological sanitation are:

* To reduce the health risks related to sanitation, contaminated water and waste

* To prevent the pollution of surface and ground water * To prevent the degradation of soil fertility

* To optimize the management of nutrients and water resources.

The following two videos take just about 19 minutes to watch. I ask you to take that time to familiarize yourself with the Ecological Sanitation process .

Ecological Sanitation systems are currently being implemented overseas in developing countries and water-shortage areas. Implementation of ecological sanitation systems and principles in the United States are mainly found on a limited basis in rural areas.

People who work in sanitation sometimes have visions. Eco-san people see a future where instead of controlling pollution after it happens, we prevent it in the first place by some kind of source separation. Water separated from excreta; urine separated from feces. The discarded products of the human body given treatment appropriate to one name (shit, meaning to separate), not another (waste, from the Latin vastus meaning unoccupied or uncultivated). A cleaner new world where people put out their trash cans full of fecal compost to be collected on a Monday, like they do with garbage.

The Church of the Holy Shitters hopes and prays for the expeditious arrival of this vision! The technology presently exists to implement this transition. It is the lack of attention, drive and motivation that are the problems. This Church is dedicated to transforming our ass-backward thought processes with regard to sanitation and ushering in a new ass-forward eco-san way of dealing with our own shit.

 

Make it your business to read about eco-san next time you do you business.

Make it your business to read about eco-san next time you do your business.

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Our climate is changing. I'm humorously serious about addressing it. I'm convinced my ego is the main culprit. My religion, Holy Shitters, demands I humble myself and celebrate the fact my shit stinks.
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