Rise of the Superbugs

Rise of the Superbugs

[MUSIC] In his book “Microcosm” Carl Zimmer says…
ow! There’s an old saying about death by a thousand
papercuts. But what if it just took one? That’s silly, right? I mean, even if this
DID get infected, we’ve got antibiotics to clean us up, it’s easy as aspirin. But
that all might be about to change. New types of antibiotic-resistant bacteria
are starting to take over, some able to beat every drug we throw at them. [MUSIC] We may be entering the post-antibiotic era,
where something like this… could be the end of me…
all thanks to superbugs. [MUSIC] News flash! Everything is covered in bacteria.
That. Definitely that. Oh yeah, they’re ALL over that.
In fact, even YOU are full of bacteria. You might as well be a sentient sack whose main job
is to carry around 100 trillion or so microbes. But hey, at least you’ve got purpose! Usually they aren’t anything to worry about,
because most bacteria aren’t dangerous, heck, some are even our friends. Thanks for
helping me digest breakfast, guys!! But sometimes, we meet the bad guys in the
form of bacterial infections. But hey, no problem, we’ve got antibiotics! A few pills,
you’re back to normal, right as rain, ship shape! Unfortunately that might soon be a thing of
the past. We’ve got armies of superbugs laughing tiny bacterial laughs in the face
of every drug we throw at them. How did this happen? To understand that, we need to look
at where antibiotics come from. There’s probably more bacterial mass on
Earth than every other living thing combined. In one spoonful of soil, there might be more
than a billion microbes of more than 10,000 different species, and not just bacteria but
also microscopic fungi, some cooperating, others locked in chemical warfare. It’s that chemical warfare that allowed
Alexander Fleming to discover the very first antibiotic, by accident.
While cleaning off his lab bench, he saw a petri dish had become contaminated with mold,
and on it all the bacteria had died, as if the mold was secreting poison.
That fungus was a strain of Penicillium, and the antibiotic that was isolated from it,
penicillin. Early on doctors couldn’t purify enough
of it to actually use it in humans. One of the first patients to receive penicillin was
a British policeman who developed a deadly infection after being scratched by a rose
bush in his garden. He had to have that penicillin filtered out
of his urine to get the next dose, that’s how valuable it was. He ended up dying anyway,
but the age of antibiotics had begun! Since then, these drugs have saved millions
of lives, maybe even yours! Thanks to them, we can treat pretty much every disease that
used to kill you in Oregon Trail. But now that’s changed. Each year, nearly
two million people in the U.S. become infected with bacteria resistant to at least one antibiotic,
and 23,000 of those people die. Antibiotic resistant bacteria are here. Well,
not HERE, here. I hope. So how does resistance work?
Sometimes random mutations result in anti-antibiotic superpowers, but bacteria are also able to
swap genes the way we swap baseball cards, thanks to a process called gene transfer,
either sweeping up antibiotic resistance in the genetic remains of dead bacteria or exchanging
it during a sort of bacterial makeout session we call conjugation. Bacteria like Staphylococcus have gained the
ability to rebuild their cell wall faster than one antibiotic breaks it down. Other
bacteria have “learned” how to make pumps that flush antibiotics out of the cell before
they do their job. Even in 1945 Fleming himself had already seen
bacteria become resistant to penicillin. Dunno, maybe we shoulda seen this coming?
Antibiotics we DO have today have come mainly from the environment, we’ve adopted the
natural weapons that microbes use to wage war on each other… but that also means they’ve
had billions of years to develop resistance. It seems like wherever nature has developed
an antibiotic, it’s also developed a way to fight it. Resistance seems like an inevitable
result of evolution. Of course we are doing our part to help the
superbugs succeed. Every year, hundreds of thousands of people
are prescribed antibiotics for viral infections. Antibiotics DO NOT KILL VIRUSES. Let me just
repeat that: Antibiotics DO NOT KILL VIRUSES. And every time you don’t finish your full
prescription, you run the risk of leaving super-strong stragglers behind.
Special antibacterial soaps? NO! Soap is antibacterial by definition, I promise.
Those special additives do nothing to make us safer, and probably make the bugs stronger. So what can we do?
With bacteria figuring out how to beat antibiotics within years of their release, most drug companies
aren’t super-motivated to invest the billions it takes to develop new ones. In 2004 there
were only 5 antibiotics in development. But hope is not lost. Besides not getting
infected in the first place, we need to research new ways to fight bad bacteria, using materials
that are naturally antimicrobial, or phage therapy, which uses viruses that infect bacteria
to fight infections. We might even be able to use good bacteria
to fight the bad, like using fecal transplants to fight Clostridium difficile infections
in the digestive system. Yep… fecal transplants. Who would have thought
that poop could be used as medicine? We also have to look at where our food comes
from. Factory farms use 80% of all antibiotics, where they can contaminate the environment
and drive the evolution of superbugs. And stop prescribing them for viral infections!
It’s a cold, people! We’re playing a game of coevolution, an
arms race, with our health at stake. Drugs and bacteria are like cheetahs and gazelles,
the cheetah gets faster, and the gazelles have to speed up to survive.
Except I think maybe we’re the gazelles, and I’m not sure how much faster we can
run. I mean, did we learn nothing from Jurassic
Park? Let’s face it: Bacteria were here first.
They’ve got like a 3 billion year head start on this whole life thing, so it’s not surprising
that they’ve worked out some pretty good survival skills. In the past 100 years, next to clean water
and vaccinations, it’s likely that nothing has saved more lives than antibiotics, but
we’ve got some work to do to avoid a future where paper cuts and sore throats are deadly.
But hey, we’re pretty good at surviving too. Stay curious… and… go wash your hands. Hey, I’m Anna from “Gross Science”! Want to
know more about fecal transplants? Head over to my channel to find out why anyone would
want to use poop as medicine.

100 thoughts on “Rise of the Superbugs

  1. The biggest reason for over prescription of antibiotics is ignorant patients who demand them. If they don't get a z-pak for their cold, they complain and say the doctors are bad or that they didn't get what they paid for. If the doctors get bad reviews, they lose their jobs. It's really a bad system we've got going in the US.

  2. I think we should start using bacteriophanges with anti-biotics, because then if a superbug starts to get immune to the bacteriophanges, it will weaken its immunity to antibiotics, meaning that it can be killed again with antibiotics it was originally immune to, meaning it can’t be resistant to both bacteriophanges and antibiotics.

  3. Guys look up phages it can kill superbug. It a virus that can target only certain bacteria. Phages therapy had been used in soviet union for 90 years and work wonder. The fda do not approve it, which is crazy.

  4. Get bacteria completely resistant to antibiotics, that way they are only focusing on one type of defence, so then attack them with phages

  5. U told us that hand wash makes super bugs stronger and in the end ur telling us that wash ur hands ??

  6. Maybe we could release a bacteria with deadly DNA into your body so when they exchange DNA it kills the "superbugs"

  7. Mrsa can be cured with colloidal silver this also cures other super bugs partly because super bugs or bacteria eat the special antibiotics that are suppose to be killing the bacteria but can not eat silver for lunch. Also colloidal silver is antiviral antibacterial anti fungus it's the most antimicrobial substance known to man. If you don't want the flu this helps but so does getting enough vitamin D zinc and whole food vitamin C. Eating an organic diet and being healthy. But as far as super bugs they don't have a chance against silver. The burning centres in America also use sulfasilverdiasine because it's the best substance for healing and for preventing infection from the burn. Just a little bit of facts for all of you. God bless and good health to you all.

  8. Not sure why there’s emphasis on antibiotics don’t kill viruses. Isn’t it the doctor’s responsibility to prescribe the right medicine?

  9. Well, in Russia there are Bacteriophages and so far they are working well they even can work on Cancer but they take long to make for each diease

  10. Because humans are idiots who think a pill can cure anything, and this over excessive hygiene like alchohol hand sanitizer.

  11. 🌸 hummm if you live and eat right you don’t have to worry 👍🏼

    growing up played outside,
    Climbed trees and played with all sorts of wild flowers
    Had daily exercises so due to living normally immune system is fortified.

    In adulthood, don’t get sick much and I don’t have allergies. Also I rarely get headaches, so I don’t take any medicines etc

    Everything in moderation and well balanced to suite you own needs 😊

    🥺but if u grew up playing games inside and haven’t really lived yet……hummm tut tut

  12. Yeah if I ever get an infection from an antibiotic resistant bacteria, just fill me up with the bacteriophage that kills that bacteria please.

  13. If this mutation were to be random, wouldn't the bacteria mutate irrespective of the presence of penicillin and such? We tend to mention mutation in a species only when the species or molecule faces a tragedy. But a random thing is random irrespective of the happiness level of molecules/proteins etc. A bacteria that flushes out antibiotics faster is a better bacteria in any situation. And with the genetic transfer, it should be the next common bacteria everywhere as they make the world more congenial to themselves than the old ones. I am not an expert just a curious person. Also, if this is all random, how can we get smarter at curing diseases. Because random is unknown, how would we prepare for the unknown? Why do we refer to these bacterias as smart when they become better by random events and faulty production? Too many questions in my head

  14. One cause of antibiotic resistance is the frequent use of antibiotics in farming.

    there's a petition to stop this in the UK: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/240543/sponsors/new?token=GRSY6QwtycW26eQEZxs

  15. We should develop phages more rather than rely solely on antibiotics. I mean in Georgia (Country, not the state) they literally have a whole research center dedicated to phage therapy. Also although bacteria can develop resistance to phages too, because they are viruses they evolve faster and bacteria looses their antibiotic resistance inorder to be more resistant to phages.

  16. guys there is something called phage that inject there dna controlled the bacteria make more then produce licin that kills bacteria yeah

  17. This is why i take NO antibiotics for small disease and NOT without doctor's order. when i do got doctor's order for it i will make sure i take all the antibiotics without remains even when i feel better after just few pills.

    problem is that we have many that think it's a magical drug to cure everything and when they do take one they neglected it as soon as they feel better.

  18. Just inject a weaker version of the sickness into you so you are able deal with the sickness beter, just a simple vaccine. And anti vaccination people stop typing NOW.

  19. Thank you for always posting about the negative effects of animal agro. If anyone is interested here is an article I found about antibiotics remaining in meat products and how harmful they can be to human health. Cheers!~

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