Resistant Strains

The nasty microscopic bugs
We try to fight with special drugs
Consider penicillin just a problem to be solved
We dose ourselves at every cough
And kill a large percentage off
Forgetting that survivors mean the critters have evolved

And now, the CDC explains,
We’re dealing with resistant strains
And every day that passes brings us “closer to the cliff.”
But people are resistant, too,
To do the things we have to do
When drugs no longer work for us… there’s no more talk of “if”.


  1. Richard McAteer says

    Well done, and a good message, but the evolution of resistance is likely fueled to a far greater degree by the use of antibiotics in livestock. Many more tons of antibiotics are used by farms, even as a growth promoter, and this constant low-level exposure to antibiotics is a very favourable condition for developing resistance. (and many other posts about antibiotic resistance and farming at Superbug)

  2. Cuttlefish says

    Richard, the CDC announcement does mention both hospital use and livestock use as contributing factors. And, yes, both are changing at a glacial pace.

  3. says

    Penicillin was discovered in 1928, and came into wide use during WW II. It was known even back then that bacteria would eventually develop resistance to it: note how many “cillin” drugs have been created in the last 70 years to replace earlier drugs that were no longer effective. While overuse definitely has not helped, cillin-resistant bacteria was always inevitable.

    The question is, what are we going to do about it? I’d like to see stepped-up research into bacteriophages, but I suspect most of the people now in federal government would rather return to the days when God’s righteous judgement would wipe out entire towns by way of cholera, typhoid and staph.

  4. left0ver1under says

    Gregory in Seattle (#3) –

    The question is, what are we going to do about it?

    One option is to do nothing. Trying to create new drugs may/will only create MORE resistant bacteria and worsen the problem. It may come down to a choice of a few preventable deaths versus millions of unpreventable deaths. For example, the untreatable strains of tuberculosis – controlling the disease by quarantine may be the only answer.

  5. says

    @left0ver1under #4 – That is where bacteriophages. These are virus that infect — and subsequently kill — bacteria. The challenge with phages is that they are not the broad-spectrum approach we’ve become accustomed to: they must be grown specifically for specific types of bacteria. The advantage, though, is that this approach can easily keep up with adapting bacteria.

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