From the July 2000 Idaho Observer:

WHO: Antibiotics responsible for spread of drug resistant diseases

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- On June 12 The World Health Organization (WHO) issued a warning that the widespread use of antibiotics to treat diseases is producing increasingly drug-resistant infections all over the world.

Antibiotics have been used for decades as a panacea to treat a wide spectrum of diseases. WHO has determined that such indiscriminate use of antibiotics potentially threatens first and third world nations alike with epidemics of once-treatable diseases that have mutated to become incurable.

Scientists and alternative health care practitioners have been warning organized medicine that the repercussions of widespread use of antibiotics will lead to legions of incurable diseases. The WHO report is the first sign that allopathic practitioners have finally gotten the message.

But -- is the WHO report too late? “We're losing windows of opportunity,” said WHO infectious disease chief Dr. David Heymann. “It's something we have to really address immediately or we're going to start losing our antibiotics.”

“This is a major problem for us, and it isn't going to go away,” added Dr. Jeffrey Koplan, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC supports the WHO findings and has helped the organization to widely disseminate its report.

All life on earth has the ability to adapt to its environment. Bacteria, parasites and viruses are no different and naturally evolve to resist drugs that are developed to poison them. Bugs that survive exposure to drugs designed to kill them become impervious to the drugs and are able to withstand subsequent treatment attempts. Parent bugs then pass their drug resistance onto their offspring.

According to the WHO report, U.S. and Canadian doctors are estimated to overprescribe antibiotics by 50 percent. Each time a person receives an unnecessary dose of antibiotic, organisms that live in the body -- good, bad or otherwise -- have the opportunity to evolve and adapt.

Impoverished patients who live in third world countries cannot afford the full regimen of antibiotics recommended to fight an infection. It is not uncommon for people to purchase a few doses of antibiotics off the street and treat themselves without a prescription from a doctor. Researchers reported that more than 70 percent of Vietnamese patients, for example, received inadequate doses of antibiotics to cure serious infections.

In this modern travel and communication age where people and diseases can spread around the world in 24 hours, diseases that become resistant to treatment in one nation today can turn up in any number of other nations tomorrow. Improper use of antibiotics and other man-made disease remedies worldwide have accelerated the mutation process and have exponentially increased the likelihood of a medical armageddon.

The problem becomes more serious when you include the widespread use of antibiotics in livestock. Half the world's antibiotics are used to treat and enhance the growth of animals for commercial purposes -- a scenario that has played a major role in the proliferation of drug-resistant organisms that cause food poisoning, WHO explained.

Associated Press Medical Writer Lauren Neergaard gave a few sobering examples which indicate the seriousness of antibiotic-induced incurable illness:

“Gonorrhea was once easily curable with penicillin and tetracycline. 'Today, you can't touch it anywhere in the world with those drugs,' Heymann said. Poor nations can't afford more expensive alternatives and, to make matters worse, untreated gonorrhea is fueling spread of the AIDS virus.”

“In Estonia, Latvia, and parts of Russia and China, more than 10 percent of tuberculosis patients have strains resistant to two powerful medicines. Overall, up to two percent of the world's 16 million TB sufferers have multi-drug resistant strains, particularly frightening because TB is airborne, spread when people cough.”

“Malaria, the mosquito-spread infection that kills a million people a year, is resistant to the top medication 80 percent of the time.”

“Some 5,000 Americans may have suffered longer-lasting food poisoning in 1998 from drug-resistant germs in chicken.”

Nobody counts deaths from drug-resistant infections. The CDC says 88,000 Americans a year die of infections they catch in the hospital, and many are resistant to at least one antibiotic, complicating treatment attempts.”

Although it is becoming common knowledge that misuse of antibiotics in people and animals may lead to world-wide epidemics of incurable diseases that may potentially kill millions of people, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has thus far avoided taking any action due to intense lobbying from powerful pharmaceutical and meat production interests.

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