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Totally Drug-Resistant TB Emerges In India

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the it's-all-darwin's-fault dept.

Medicine 346

ananyo writes "Physicians in India have identified a form of incurable tuberculosis there, raising further concerns over increasing drug resistance to the disease (abstract). Although reports call this latest form a 'new entity,' researchers suggest that it is instead another development in a long-standing problem. The discovery makes India the third country in which a completely drug-resistant form of the disease has emerged, following cases documented in Italy in 2007 and Iran in 2009."

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346 comments

Not *totally* drug resistant (5, Insightful)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 2 years ago | (#38689518)

We just haven't found a drug to fight it. And before people get on the anti-antibiotics bandwagon, if we didn't use antibiotics, then the simplest infection would be "Totally Drug-Resistant".

Now if you want to speak of the "overuse" or preventative use of antibiotics, then go ahead.

Watch out Indonesia (5, Interesting)

Toe, The (545098) | more than 2 years ago | (#38689582)

Isn't the real story that it's in three countries, and that they are geographically disparate?

Or... does the disease only affect countries that start with the letter I?

Re:Watch out Indonesia (4, Informative)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38689758)

Nah, it happens all over the place, including in countries that start with "Russia". The antibiotic-resistant TB there is just not quite as bad. Unfortunately, it lives in the prison system.

Re:Watch out Indonesia (0, Flamebait)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#38690050)

But if it's in the prison system killing prisoners, isn't that reducing the costs of those prisons? How is that unfortunate?

Re:Watch out Indonesia (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38690084)

Is that you Miss Rand???

Re:Watch out Indonesia (3, Insightful)

spacefight (577141) | more than 2 years ago | (#38690120)

Where did you leave your humanity? At the gate, officer?

Re:Watch out Indonesia (1, Troll)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 2 years ago | (#38690228)

I reserve my humanity for people who act humanely. Is that bad?

On the other hand, not everyone in prison did something inhumane.

Re:Watch out Indonesia (4, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38690422)

Yes, because it ultimately means that you're no more humane than the prisoners are. When you start deciding that some people do and do not deserve to be treated humanely you open up the door for all sorts of inhuman behavior. Sure it's not a guarantee that one will turn into a genocidal mad man, but accepting the premise that some people don't deserve to be treated humanely makes it a significantly shorter trip.

Re:Watch out Indonesia (2)

DC2088 (2343764) | more than 2 years ago | (#38690486)

"Of all the people to survive, he's not the one you would have chosen, is it? But if you could choose, Doctor, if you could decide who lives and who dies... that would make you a monster."

Re:Watch out Indonesia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38690128)

Wait until you have a sibling or parent in jail. Or are you just "too good" to find yourself affected by such circumstances? You're above it all, aren't you?

Society is simply all too predictable isn't it? I hope you aren't illegally sharing files, or find your computer to be infected by malware that does it for you.

Re:Watch out Indonesia (2)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 2 years ago | (#38690118)

Why unfortunately?
It seems to me, if you had to have a incurable decease in your country you would want it to be quarantined, an to infect the people you like the least. A prison seems like the best place to have diseases, where else would you want it? In nurseries, in supermarkets?

Re:Watch out Indonesia (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38690456)

The problem is that prisoners get released or escape and they're typically packed in tightly enough that the disease can easily spread. If you're not really careful or quite lucky you end up in a situation where there are people who have done their time and can't be released because they're infected. Many of whom wouldn't have been infected if not for the conditions in the prison.

If there's going to be an outbreak, I personally would rather it be somewhere that's actually set up to deal with such a thing or can be reconfigured to deal with it.

Re:Watch out Indonesia (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 2 years ago | (#38689774)

That just means the U.S. of A. is safe from this disease because none of the letters are "I."

Re:Watch out Indonesia (1)

stanlyb (1839382) | more than 2 years ago | (#38689854)

It is becoming common problem in EU too. Maybe not totally resistant TB, but very hard to cure. What amazes me, is that in North America the TB vaccine is not standard (read my leaps: FREE), and the result is that when (not if) some american catches TB, he will be helpless.

Re:Watch out Indonesia (5, Informative)

ATestR (1060586) | more than 2 years ago | (#38689956)

STANDARD != FREE. Where I live, TB vaccinations are required for kids entering school. This is STANDARD. FREE is when you get somebody else to pay for it. Admittedly most of us have insurance to pay for it. Those without generally get the vaccinations for free anyway.

Re:Watch out Indonesia (5, Informative)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38690020)

It is becoming common problem in EU too. Maybe not totally resistant TB, but very hard to cure. What amazes me, is that in North America the TB vaccine is not standard (read my leaps: FREE), and the result is that when (not if) some american catches TB, he will be helpless.

There is no good tuberculosis vaccine. There is the BCG vaccine which confers some measure of immunity, but it's not very impressive. The problem with BCG is that is screws up SCREENING for TB via the PPD (skin prick test). Once you've had a BCG vaccination, you are going to test positive for TB in that screen, so you have to go to expensive and slightly dangerous X rays to determine active disease and you're pretty much hosed at determining 'latent' disease (where someone has been exposed, has the bug stuck deep inside their lungs but the critter hasn't multiplied - yet - in a couple of percentage points of people with latent TB it will go active at some point in their life so they often get treated before it progresses).

In countries where TB is epidemic, it often makes sense to use BCG. In the US and Western Europe, probably not but it's a complicated argument.

We really need 1) better vaccines and 2) better ways of detecting early infections. It's not for want of trying, it's just a nasty little bug.

Re:Watch out Indonesia (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#38690482)

Any vaccine will ruin a test for antibodies. What we need is a direct test for the bacteria.

Re:Watch out Indonesia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38690052)

Or... does the disease only affect countries that start with the letter I?

No, it comes from the iFanbois waiting in line to buy the iphone, ipad, and other iCrap.

Blame Apple!

Re:Not *totally* drug resistant (5, Insightful)

i kan reed (749298) | more than 2 years ago | (#38689596)

There's no such thing as an anti-antibiotics bandwagon. Does not exist.

If you search for the phrase "ban antibiotics" you will ONLY find results for people opposed to agricultural antibiotic use on healthy animals. That's it.

There are enough stupid movements to hate without having to invent new ones.

Re:Not *totally* drug resistant (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38689736)

Pssh, your anti-anti-anti ban movement isn't fooling anyone.

Re:Not *totally* drug resistant (1)

Aighearach (97333) | more than 2 years ago | (#38690402)

He's an antipseudodisestablishmentarian, give him a break.

Re:Not *totally* drug resistant (3, Interesting)

tb()ne (625102) | more than 2 years ago | (#38689796)

And yet for a Google search on "anti-antibiotics", the first page of results contains almost all links for mis/overuse of antibiotics in humans.

Re:Not *totally* drug resistant (1)

slimjim8094 (941042) | more than 2 years ago | (#38689886)

GP: "Now if you want to speak of the "overuse" or preventative use of antibiotics, then go ahead."

Re:Not *totally* drug resistant (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38690014)

They are *not* candy, some doctors prescribe them like they are and some patents demand them like they should be....

All antibiotics by their very nature disrupt the balance of the non aggressive bacteria which your body tolerates to produce extra essential vitamins in the gut and to cloud out the explicitly pathogenic varieties in the skin and elsewhere. This means that they come with a risk of skin rashes, minor stomach upsets gas and other such issues, particularly heavy use may cause more serious issues on occasion. Because of these issues you should only take antibiotics for real infections or serious wounds not colds or coughs, unless you have particular risk factors.

Despite these issues refusing them when you have a serious problem is madness, they are a powerful tool and a boon to our average lifespan and health that has not yet been equalled by any other single class of technology, wanting to cut unnecessary use to improve effectiveness and reduce risk is not the same as wanting to stop using them.

Re:Not *totally* drug resistant (1)

tb()ne (625102) | more than 2 years ago | (#38690410)

Well stated. I'd mod you up if I hadn't already posted (and you weren't AC). I wasn't arguing for or against antibiotics - just addressing the red herring in the parent post.

Re:Not *totally* drug resistant (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38690484)

Except those people aren't opposed to using antibiotics in cases of bacterial infection that warrants it, they're opposed to giving it to live stock just for the hell of it or giving it to people that likely have a viral infection.

Nobody's anti-antibiotics even if some of us think that we need to progress beyond them to using something a little bit longer term like phages.

Re:Not *totally* drug resistant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38689934)

This comment got modded up for being insightful? It should have been modded for being funny instead. Overuse of antibiotics is a huge concern to all doctors and nurses... just ask any of them, they all know about it.

People get the slightest cough and suddenly they want the strongest antibiotic known to man. This leads to diseases becoming immune to them.

Re:Not *totally* drug resistant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38690064)

And it ought to be illegal. Doctors should be losing their licenses and being prosecuted for this kind of crap, not just painkillers.

Re:Not *totally* drug resistant (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#38690164)

And how do you plan to crucify the patients who do not take the full course of antibiotics they are prescribed? As a doctor I just want to be sure you be fair to everyone under your tyrannical plan.

Re:Not *totally* drug resistant (5, Funny)

localman57 (1340533) | more than 2 years ago | (#38690466)

And how do you plan to crucify the patients who do not take the full course of antibiotics they are prescribed?

I assume he plans to use nails. Is that how pretty much everybody does it?

Re:Not *totally* drug resistant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38690038)

Oh, I'm sure there's someone out there. There are groups against blood-transfusions, alcohol, disposable diapers. Just because Google doesn't show them in their search results does not mean that they don't exist.

Having said that, I think you're right in that he's probably stretched/misunderstood the primary groups you can find by searching "ban antibiotics." There is another (much smaller) group that's unhappy with how antibiotics are used in humans (because it can do things like this) but they aren't against them as much as they dislike how the masses abuse them.

Re:Not *totally* drug resistant (0, Troll)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 2 years ago | (#38690480)

I know a LOT of people that totally oppose the use of anti-biotics. Some appose the use of all drugs. Some think Tea tree oil will cure everything and anything made by a pharma company is inherently evil. Some think God doesn't want people using drugs. And then you've got your Darwinists that think drugs have stopped the progress of evolution and think the fit should survive and if you can't develop immunity you just suck it up and die. Their all nut-balls, but they exist in vast quantities.

There are literally Millions of people in this country who want antibiotics totally banned. You need to get out more.

Re:Not *totally* drug resistant (2)

arnodf (1310501) | more than 2 years ago | (#38689616)

exactly what I was thinking, in india antibiotics are used as if it was water.When I was there last year, newspapers adviced against eating honey because it was completely saturated with antibiotics. (another food scandal at the time was chickpeas coloured green and sold as peas)

I am Jack's complete and utter lack of surprise. (2)

Dogtanian (588974) | more than 2 years ago | (#38690210)

in india antibiotics are used as if it was water

Yeah, I've heard about this. In particular, about them being given out like M&Ms, even for viral infections where the doctors knew damn well that they'd do nothing useful, but wanted to pander to the patients. That's not even the OP's "overuse", it's blatant and irresponsible misuse that was obviously going to cause major grief at some point- well, here we are.

I've heard it said that such people had no other option, but since their only "option" didn't work, the doctors would have been more responsible giving them placebo sugar pills. Wouldn't have helped those particular patients any more, but it would have caused less harm to the same demographic of poor people in general that this TB is now most likely to hit.

At any rate, if it hadn't already been in the headline, I'd have guessed (rightly) that it had started in India- this isn't remotely surprising.

Re:I am Jack's complete and utter lack of surprise (2)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 2 years ago | (#38690418)

Yeah, I've heard about this. In particular, about them being given out like M&Ms, even for viral infections where the doctors knew damn well that they'd do nothing useful, but wanted to pander to the patients. That's not even the OP's "overuse", it's blatant and irresponsible misuse that was obviously going to cause major grief at some point- well, here we are.

And, to make things even worse, the standard from what I've seen among the Indians I have worked with is to take the antibiotics until starting to feel better, then stop taking them. This results in recurrent infections of resistant bacteria. I've also observed this a lot with people from the Caribbean.

Re:Not *totally* drug resistant (5, Insightful)

wolfsdaughter (1081205) | more than 2 years ago | (#38689712)

The problem isn't using antibiotics to fight bacterial infections.

The problem is incorrectly using antibiotics, much of which comes from IGNORANCE and POVERTY
1) Ignorance: lack of education on how antibiotics work, and a frightening number of people stop taking the antibiotics as soon as they start feeling better - VERY BAD IDEA!

2) Poverty: medicines are expensive, and so people who are tight on money will "share" drugs, with other people to save on costs. This goes hand in hand with ignorance about how the drugs work.

The answer to this (and many other problems) is universal education and healthcare.

Re:Not *totally* drug resistant (1, Troll)

NatasRevol (731260) | more than 2 years ago | (#38689928)

Sorry, but that's not THE answer. It's AN answer. And a very expensive & unpractical one.

The answer that will be done is...natural selection.

Re:Not *totally* drug resistant (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38690012)

Spoken as a true asocial elitist

So what if it's expensive? The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, and definitely outweighs their _wants_...

Re:Not *totally* drug resistant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38690028)

And nobody is immune from drug-resistant viri. It doesn't matter what your net worth is.

It is much better to stop these outbreaks when they are small than when thousands or millions are sick and dieing.

Uni healthcare is practical if done correctly and technology helps bring the costs down, and the service up.

Re:Not *totally* drug resistant (1)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 2 years ago | (#38690258)

All viruses are drug-resistant, the conversation is about bacteria.

Re:Not *totally* drug resistant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38690110)

"The answer to this (and many other problems) is universal education and healthcare."

Do you know what a non-sequitur is?

Re:Not *totally* drug resistant (2, Interesting)

timeOday (582209) | more than 2 years ago | (#38690318)

Universal healthcare and education would have innumerable benefits, but it would not halt the evolution of pathogens. I did find a source claiming perhaps 50% of antibiotics are used incorrectly, which is not good. But the economic rise of several populous nations, and the growing world population, will increase antibiotics use by much more than that, as well it should, saving millions of lives in the process. The more people, the more pathogens, and the more medical researchers, and the faster the arms race evolves.

Don't get me wrong, we should do what we can, but it's wrong to assume drug-resistant pathogens are "caused by" antibiotic misuse. It's one contributor to the problem.

Re:Not *totally* drug resistant (5, Insightful)

David Greene (463) | more than 2 years ago | (#38689810)

You misunderstand the problem. Antibiotics are not the problem. The overuse of antibiotics is the problem. I hear about this every single week from my wife, who is a provider. She constantly gets pressured by patients to prescribe antibiotics when they are clearly not necessary or justified. We have to change the culture of medical care here in the U.S.

Re:Not *totally* drug resistant (5, Insightful)

Luckyo (1726890) | more than 2 years ago | (#38689848)

This is a silly claim. There are antibiotics that can kill most of the resistant bacteria. We know many of them. Problem is, they also kill the host when host is human, typically by destroying kidneys or liver.

It's not that we don't have the tools to kill these "super germs". We do. We just don't have the tools that kill the germs without killing the humans. Essentially we're paving the path for bacteria that adapt to antibiotics as a threat to their existence by remaining/becoming vulnerable to antibiotics that destroy various internal organs, and becoming resistant to those that do not.

Re:Not *totally* drug resistant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38690142)

Your definition of "antibiotics" includes hammers and lightning.

Re:Not *totally* drug resistant (1)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 2 years ago | (#38690360)

WTH? If the drug kills people then it's not an antibiotic, it's just a poison.

Re:Not *totally* drug resistant (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38689942)

Except that new antibiotics aren't really being developed anymore. The last one in wide use, I forget which, was brought out some 20 years ago. The reason: high development cost, combined with fast bacterial adaptation mean that pharmaceutical companies aren't even able to recoup their investment before a drug falls out of use. Source: my infectology professor.
Two possible solutions to this problem I see is raising the price of antibiotics or introducing government subsidies for development.

Re:Not *totally* drug resistant (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38690044)

Bullshit. You're probably thinking of Vancomycin, but there are definitely newer ones out there and more being developed to fight Vancomycin-resistant infections.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linezolid
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daptomycin

Re:Not *totally* drug resistant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38690198)

So if they all become useless before the developers can recoup their costs, where are the antibiotics that are being prescribed coming from?

Re:Not *totally* drug resistant (1)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 2 years ago | (#38690440)

What I don't understand is why antibiotics can't be rotated in and out of use. If these bugs adapt in so few generations and have generations so quickly I'd think they'd lose adaptations for immunities that haven't been needed as quickly as they develop new ones.

So why can't we just put penicillin on the shelf for 20 years, use amoxicillian, and then some others and by the time we go through the list penicillin would be highly effective again?

Re:Not *totally* drug resistant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38689944)

if we didn't use antibiotics, then the simplest infection would be "Totally Drug-Resistant".

You're forgetting that our bodies are also a source of drugs. By using external antibiotics we have been able to radically and artificially accelerate our resistance to many diseases, but in doing so we have placed all our eggs in one basket.

Re:Not *totally* drug resistant (0)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 2 years ago | (#38690068)

There are alternatives to antibiotics you know.

Re:Not *totally* drug resistant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38690332)

Yep, death is certainly one alternative...

Re:Not *totally* drug resistant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38690098)

Do you work in the pharmaceutical industry by any chance?

Re:Not *totally* drug resistant (1)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 2 years ago | (#38690102)

It's also possible that a combination of existing drugs will kill it. AFAIK, that's how leprosy was cured.

Of course, the more drugs you throw at a problem, the more likely the patient will have a bad reaction.

Re:Not *totally* drug resistant (5, Interesting)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 2 years ago | (#38690168)

True enough.
Actually there are a couple of means to attack this strain.
1. We should sequence those strains and see if we can identify any weakness to exploit.
2. Discover how their resistance works. For example strains that are resistant to say penicillin tend to make an enzyme that breaks down penicillin. So possibly one could make a drug that binds that enzyme and combine it with the antibiotic or change the antibiotic that the enzyme has no effect or even have the drug activated by the enzyme.
3. Bacteriophages are an interesting but really under researched treatment in the West. The old USSR did a lot of research in to them and frankly we should start as well.

Of course what is really scary are the folks that are no in "raw" milk. They are making claims that it can cure everything from cancer to Autism all the while providing an excellent vector for TB.

Re:Not *totally* drug resistant (3, Insightful)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38690188)

There are two drugs that are used for TB: isoniazid and rifampicin.

From the article:

"The fact that no new first-line TB drugs have been developed for half a century has probably contributed to the emergence of strains that are unresponsive to treatment, says Mitnick. “If you keep using the same drugs for that long, resistance is inevitable.”"

“The pharmaceutical industry had scant interest in TB for decades,” says Richard Chaisson, director of the Center for TB Research at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland. “The industry pretty much concluded it wasn’t an attractive market, there was not enough potential profit.”

This leads to an interesting point that the pharmaceutical industry cannot be given stewardship of protecting the public's health. Unless it's profitable they can't be bothered.

Re:Not *totally* drug resistant (1)

Sebastopol (189276) | more than 2 years ago | (#38690194)

Well put!

Re:Not *totally* drug resistant (1)

no-body (127863) | more than 2 years ago | (#38690206)

Ah - you probably haven't had or don't know somebody who had a drug-resistant bug and had "just" to wait until a drug is found...

We just haven't found a drug

What a jerk you are!

Re:Not *totally* drug resistant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38690308)

By that logic, all diseases are curable. We just haven't found them yet. All maladies are curable, we just haven't found them yet. True statements, but very obvious, and totally useless.

Mother earth is fighting back. (1)

Adult film producer (866485) | more than 2 years ago | (#38689526)

And its about time she exacted her vengeance upon us. We live in exciting times! Enjoy them while you are still alive

Re:Mother earth is fighting back. (2)

MagikSlinger (259969) | more than 2 years ago | (#38689584)

[Channeling Jeff Goldblum]

"No, I'm, I'm simply saying that life, uh... finds a way. "

Re:Mother earth is fighting back. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38689678)

And its about time she exacted her vengeance upon us. We live in exciting times! Enjoy them while you are still alive

India, Italy and Iran. At least She's nice enough to mostly target brown people, dune coons and other undesirables.

If something like this hit inner city ghettos we might even revitalize our cities again!

Re:Mother earth is fighting back. (2)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38689818)

Sorry, but your eugenics program will have to wait for another day. Drug-resistant TB is everywhere. [oxfordjournals.org]

Re:Mother earth is fighting back. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38689820)

If something like this hit inner city ghettos we might even revitalize our cities again!

I am sure the CIA is working around the clock on this very thing.

Re:Mother earth is fighting back. (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 2 years ago | (#38689896)

That line of thinking is what some believe led to the creation of AIDS and its multi-targeted appearance around the globe.

Cough... (3, Interesting)

wbr1 (2538558) | more than 2 years ago | (#38689542)

And yet the food industry and the pharmaceutical industry would have us believe that the overuse of antibiotics is harmless ...cough.

Re:Cough... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38689592)

that small cough doesn't sound so good. Take all these antibiotics

Re:Cough... (1)

stanlyb (1839382) | more than 2 years ago | (#38689880)

Did you spill blood? Then don't take any antibiotics, write your will, and do finish this bucket list....

Re:Cough... (1)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38690292)

Except that's not the problem here. No new drugs have been developed for TB. The same antibiotics have been used for 50 years, which "probably contributed to the emergence of strains that are unresponsive to treatment."

This would be a bad time for a "Madagascar" joke. (5, Insightful)

Iamthecheese (1264298) | more than 2 years ago | (#38689570)

The only silver lining is that it's not even more deadly. At least we can learn about the effectiveness of quarantine methods in the modern era before something even more deadly shows up. Also each evolution that allows a bacteria to become resistant to a drug weakens the bacteria in all other cases.

Re:This would be a bad time for a "Madagascar" jok (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38689684)

The only silver lining is that it's not even more deadly. At least we can learn about the effectiveness of quarantine methods in the modern era before something even more deadly shows up.

Also each evolution that allows a bacteria to become resistant to a drug weakens the bacteria in all other cases.

A cure for antibotic resistant bacteria may simply be to stop all antibotic dosing and infect them with a large dose of a non-resistant from of the bacteria. Obviously, this will post will be riped off and used in an all new episode of House. Especially, since it would be pretty dangerious.

Re:This would be a bad time for a "Madagascar" jok (5, Insightful)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38689720)

I could ramble aimlessly about this general topic for a while, but instead to farm karma more efficiently I think I'll make an obscure, off topic point that I think is interesting by analogy: this directing of evolution also occurs at an environmental scale. Life may find ways to survive in the presence of all the chemicals we dump into the ecosystem, but it will be more vulnerable to other stressors as a result, including those through which it would normally survive. In combination with the on-going loss of diversity caused by more direct damage to the environment, life as we know it is pretty cornered.

It's a little as if we're extremely incompetent first-year med students trying to eliminate a patient's symptoms (i.e. the planet's inherent imperfection for supporting modern life) and we're on the verge of unintentionally killing off the infection that's actually responsible. (Admittedly, this is a lousy analogy, but it's important to realise that it's happening.)

Re:This would be a bad time for a "Madagascar" jok (4, Interesting)

shadowrat (1069614) | more than 2 years ago | (#38689806)

Also each evolution that allows a bacteria to become resistant to a drug weakens the bacteria in all other cases.

I had not understood this to be true. I keep hearing that strains of bacteria become resistant to all antibiotics. not just a queue of 3, then the next strain is resistant to a 4th antibiotic, but no longer resistant to the first. Evolution does seem to favor specialization, but traits are only lost if they hinder. I don't know exactly what the mechanism of resistance is, but i don't know that each kind of antibiotic requires some new organ to exist resulting in lumpy slow bacteria.

Re:This would be a bad time for a "Madagascar" jok (2)

trimpnick (1362187) | more than 2 years ago | (#38690060)

It's the energetic cost. Think of climbing Everest, an electric heater and generator+fuel might be very useful, but the weight you have to lug around is really prohibitive to doing it, so you only take what's necessary to survive up there.

Re:This would be a bad time for a "Madagascar" jok (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 2 years ago | (#38690406)

There was this nice experiment in which viruses in a test tube with an artificial environment (with viral materials for wiral reproduction) eventually shed all the parts they needed to enter and use living cells, which made them reproduce faster and outpace their slower-reproducing, cell-infection-capable siblings...and then when they deprived them of said materials and reintroduced live cells, the "more evolved" viruses were out of luck.

That explains that weird call to customer support (5, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38689644)

I was wondering why "Bob" kept coughing.

This will be unpopular.... (1, Funny)

tlambert (566799) | more than 2 years ago | (#38689660)

This will be unpopular....

I understand that we are supposed to be a society of victimology, where it's more important that a single victim feel good about themselves than it is to save society, or the species, as a whole, but...

Maybe it's time to go back to the pre-antibiotic known-working fixes for contagious diseases for which there is no cure, i.e.: sanitariums and leper colonies? At least that way, in two hundred years, there will still be people around to feel morally outraged at the excesses of their ancestors.

-- Terry

Re:This will be unpopular.... (3, Informative)

s_p_oneil (795792) | more than 2 years ago | (#38689938)

It might be popular if it stood a chance of working...

Wikipedia quote:
One third of the world's population is thought to be infected with M. tuberculosis,[3][4] and new infections occur at a rate of about one per second.[3] In 2007 there were an estimated 13.7 million chronic active cases,[5] and in 2010 8.8 million new cases, and 1.45 million deaths, mostly in developing countries.[6] The absolute number of tuberculosis cases has been decreasing since 2006 and new cases since 2002.[6] In addition, more people in the developing world contract tuberculosis because their immune systems are more likely to be compromised due to higher rates of AIDS.[7] The distribution of tuberculosis is not uniform across the globe; about 80% of the population in many Asian and African countries test positive in tuberculin tests, while only 5–10% of the U.S. population test positive.[1]

It sounds like many Asian and African countries need the opposite (a place for all the healthy people to go).

Re:This will be unpopular.... (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#38690376)

Tuberculin tests are just that, they test for the antibody. So even people who are no longer infected, or were vaccinated will test positive.

Re:This will be unpopular.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38690170)

Unpopular because it's an idea without merit.

What problem does your plan solve? Using no antibiotics ever and letting everyone infected die is about the same as overusing them to the point where every infection is resistant. You have no fewer infections and no fewer deaths.

Re:This will be unpopular.... (2)

myrdos2 (989497) | more than 2 years ago | (#38690182)

TB can be vaccinated against.

Re:This will be unpopular.... (4, Insightful)

Dogtanian (588974) | more than 2 years ago | (#38690374)

I can't work out whether this is meant to be a joke or not, or whether the people who modded it up as "Funny" misinterpreted it as a joke, or whether they thought it wasn't a joke, but modded it up as "Funny" anyway to show how laughable they thought it was.... :-/

Evolution (0)

necro81 (917438) | more than 2 years ago | (#38689664)

But evolution is just a theory that's out there [google.com] . It isn't actually true.

Right?

Re:Evolution (2)

geoffrobinson (109879) | more than 2 years ago | (#38689770)

Can you point to a Young Earth Creationist who doesn't think natural selection can account for drug resistance? Because I haven't come across one. Let alone the Old Earthers or more generic Intelligent Design folk.

Re:Evolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38689906)

This is obviously God's will, and part of His plan. Intelligent Design is not just something that happened at the dawn of time, *POOF*, and everything was created. It is an ongoing phenomenon and if anything this makes it more obvious now than it was before. It's happening before our very eyes, and we honestly should stop trying to thwart God's will, and instead live by His rules and accept His wisdom, even though we may not always understand it.

Re:Evolution (1)

sidthegeek (626567) | more than 2 years ago | (#38690244)

Pastor Jake? Is that you?

Name that movie title (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38689686)

An incurable air transmittable disease in a high population density region.

Re:Name that movie title (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38689724)

Unfortunately, you can't just blow up the bridges around India.

Darwinian Evolution of Indian Society? (0, Troll)

BoRegardless (721219) | more than 2 years ago | (#38689788)

So...the non-resistant Indians die and leave a super-race?

Oh, there is also nearly totally drug resistant MRSA in India and the WHO in the EU has now found 80% of travellers coming back from India have MRSA in their gut.

Wonderful new low cost product solutions from India. Ain't we happy?

Re:Darwinian Evolution of Indian Society? (1)

Muad'Dave (255648) | more than 2 years ago | (#38690238)

KHANNNNNnnnnnnnnnn!!!!

(In case you didn't know, he was supposed to have been an Indian prince).

Re:Darwinian Evolution of Indian Society? (2)

dooode (1134443) | more than 2 years ago | (#38690294)

@Boregardless: How about you stop your racist tripe and take a dose of facts:

The origin of MSRA has been primarily traced from Europe, and thats where today there are maximum infections (and deaths).

Read:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methicillin-resistant_Staphylococcus_aureus#US_and_UK [wikipedia.org]

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) primarily originated from UK. MRSA was responsible for 94,360 serious infections and associated with 18,650 hospital stay-related deaths in the United States in 2005. MRSA is thought to have caused 1,652 deaths in 2006 in UK up from 51 in 1993. Worldwide, an estimated 2 billion people carry some form of S. aureus; of these, up to 53 million (2.7% of carriers) are thought to carry MRSA.[59] In the United States, 95 million carry S. aureus in their noses; of these, 2.5 million (2.6% of carriers) carry MRSA. As a matter of fact # of hospital aquired infections (that includes MRSA) in Europe ranges from 4% to 10% of all hospital admissions.

Re:Darwinian Evolution of Indian Society? (2)

Guppy (12314) | more than 2 years ago | (#38690462)

You're trying to be funny here, but as the linked nature article says, "Tuberculosis trails behind only HIV as the world’s leading cause of death from infectious disease."-- and unlike HIV, it has been circulating since antiquity. There's a fair bit of speculation (though difficult to prove) that evolutionary pressure from TB has contributed to some types of autoimmune disease susceptibility.

Distribution of Drug-Resistant TB (5, Informative)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38689862)

For those interested in exactly how prevalent this sort of thing is, be aware that drug resistant TB is in almost every country in the world; it's just really bad in those particular three countries. This journal article from 2006 [oxfordjournals.org] has maps showing the incidence rates per country.

Re:Distribution of Drug-Resistant TB (2)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 2 years ago | (#38690166)

I personally blame people for stopping the take on the antibiotics in the first place for dooming us all. Man are we seriously moving back to the days of 40 to 150 years ago when we're going to start seeing "Quarantine" signs on houses? Well it sure the hell might be a good idea at this point.

My sister had TB when she was younger, picked it up as a candy striper [wikipedia.org] . The hospital didn't pick it up in the patient in time, new immigrant, no check protocols at the time. This is going back oh almost 20 years now here in Canada. She was on antibiotics for 6 months. The problem of course is that, most people will probably say go and stop after a month because they're feeling better. That is if they're even showing signs.

These days there's rules and protocols on everything at least. My favorite is..."if you think your patient has TB, or you're transporting a prisoner who you believe has TB, drive with your windows down." At least ambulance drivers get masks, cops don't. At least not from their services.

Why isn't every disease drug-resistant in India? (1, Informative)

dooode (1134443) | more than 2 years ago | (#38689912)

I am not surprised that they found a drug resistant TB strain in India. The only thing that surprises me is why not every disease is drug resistant in India.

Many poor Indians would pop anti-biotic tablets like candies after buying them for few cents from an over the counter store (its in direct contrast to the US system where even after paying a fortune you don't get antibiotics). They are often cheap, more or less affective and gets them rid of the problems...but not always.

Antibiotics would require you to finish an entire course, else they become ineffective for ever. There are uneducated idiots in India who would pop one or two tablets and never heed to advice by the pharmacist (and at times they would not have enough money to buy the complete course too).

So why are we surprised that there is an emergence of a strain that no antibiotics can cure? Most likely the previous commenter is right - they haven't found an alternative antibiotic yet. I am sure some random Indian lab would develop it in a few months, but it won't work for long - its more of a systemic problem than a medical issue.

Re:Why isn't every disease drug-resistant in India (2)

mspohr (589790) | more than 2 years ago | (#38690470)

Stop feeling so superior (and stop being so condescending to others).
Developed countries abuse antibiotics by feeding them to animals for better yields and by doctors kowtowing to worried patients with viral infections.
There are "uneducated idiots" (to use your phrase) everywhere.
As another poster pointed out, drug-resistant TB is everywhere. http://jid.oxfordjournals.org/content/194/4/479.full.pdf [oxfordjournals.org]

Not just in India (2)

LizardKing (5245) | more than 2 years ago | (#38689974)

We've had drug resistant TB in the UK. That includes one case in Basingstoke, where a family friend works as a nurse. The patient is (or was, this was two years ago) an intravenous drug user.

The cure is obvious (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 2 years ago | (#38690100)

Unless you choose to add silly requirements like "the patient must survive the treatment".

Re:The cure is obvious (1)

FlavaFlavivirus (2021178) | more than 2 years ago | (#38690362)

"We cured the infection by treating the patient in an autoclave. Unfortunately, he did not survive."
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