You may wonder why we have chosen to write about the Center for Disease Control’s recent warning against the overuse of antibiotics… on a web site that deals with water quality, water quality testing, and water quality improvement.
The answer lies in the fact that medical professionals prescribing antibiotics in stronger (and stronger) dosages and more frequently means more antibiotics wind up in the general population which then, in turn, flushes them down the toilet as bodily waste.
So what’s the problem?
As a general rule most water treatment plants lack the technology to filter out many of the antibiotics and byproducts left over once antibiotics pass through the human body. Therefore it stands to reason that we will then consume some of those antibiotic byproducts in our drinking water.
While some believe the quantities contained in drinking water ought not pose a problem, we have, yet, to see a lot of data on the effects of consuming these products long-term… and who knows? Perhaps they may harm us in the way that long-term consumption of arsenic in drinking water does?
Some folks, like those in the CDC, say our overexposure to antibiotics has resulted in the creation of ‘superbugs’ that have adapted in ways that now allow them to survive antibiotic treatments.
The facts below scared us into thinking more about the amount of antibiotics we take — and eventually pass back into the environment as waste:
- Approximately 2 million people per year develop anti-biotic resistant infections and 23,000 people die annually from ineffective anti-biotic treatment.
- In 2007, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimated over 100,000 people died from infection received while in a hospital. Currently, it is unclear how many of those deaths are the result of drug resistant infection. ( source )
In no way, shape or form do we think doctors should 100% scrap the use of antibiotics, but the numbers do seem to show that the more antibiotics we as a population take, the more ‘weird’ and ‘funky’ mutated strains of bacteria keep popping up — and killing people in HOSPITALS.
Don’t you think a HOSPITAL would be the LAST place where these odd, lethal strains of bacteria would show up?
Moral of the story?
We feel that more research needs to get done on the effects of residual pharmaceuticals in the water supply. Are they causing us harm? Are they helping bacteria mutate into superbugs? How can we effectively remove them from the water supply? And finally, does a better means of treating infection exist that will allow us to slow down the mutation rate of bacteria strains?
Remember in War of the Worlds when the massively advanced, space travelling aliens got taken down by the common cold? We do!