The first death caused by an infection that could not be stopped by antibiotics was reported by the New Zealand Herald. As Wired's Maryn McKenna explains, this tragedy "illustrates that antibiotic resistance can spread anywhere, no matter the defenses we put up and it demonstrates that we are on the verge of entering a new era in history."
If we really lost antibiotics to advancing drug resistance and trust me, were not far off heres what we would lose. Not just the ability to treat infectious disease; thats obvious.
But also: The ability to treat cancer, and to transplant organs, because doing those successfully relies on suppressing the immune system and willingly making ourselves vulnerable to infection. Any treatment that relies on a permanent port into the bloodstream for instance, kidney dialysis. Any major open-cavity surgery, on the heart, the lungs, the abdomen. Any surgery on a part of the body that already harbors a population of bacteria: the guts, the bladder, the genitals. Implantable devices: new hips, new knees, new heart valves. Cosmetic plastic surgery. Liposuction. Tattoos.
Wed lose the ability to treat people after traumatic accidents, as major as crashing your car and as minor as your kid falling out of a tree. Wed lose the safety of modern childbirth: Before the antibiotic era, 5 women died out of every 1,000 who gave birth. One out of every nine skin infections killed. Three out of every 10 people who got pneumonia died from it.
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