Before we go ahead into the details of Superbug, how many times does this happen to you ?
You: *Sniff* I think I have caught a cold.
Mom: Hah! Told you not to drink cold water. Go and take the antibiotic the doctor gave for my fever.
If your answer is anything between sometimes and all the time, then you are part of the gang supporting the deadly super-villain Superbug.
First off, what is the Superbug?
Superbug is a collective name to many kinds for microbes (keetanu of the Dettol ads) that have become resistant to all the currently available antibiotics.
YES, that’s right – all of them. Even Superman has weakness, but not Superbug.
If that makes you scared, you have every reason. 7 lakh people die due to Superbug infections every year, and project that a colossal 1 crore will be killed by Superbug in 2050.
Now coming back to how you are helping Superbug
The conversation in the starting of the article is pretty common. We take antibiotics indiscriminately. Even for cold, which is not even treatable with antibiotics!
And this is the problem.
Using antibiotics mindlessly is making disease causing microbes resistant to them.
There are other reasons as well. For example, not completing the course of antibiotics as prescribed by the doctor because obviously “I’m feeling better, so why take the medicine?”
But what’s the exact process?
Here’s a breakdown:
How microbes become Superbugs:
So let us say you have an infection, and you start taking a three-day course of antibiotics. After two days you start feeling well, and you decide to not take any more medicines. Your logic is probably this – I’m feeling better, that means all the bacteria are dead.
Well, you’re wrong.
What really happens is most of the bacteria die but some are still alive, in small numbers. These small numbers don’t show any symptoms, but they are still there.
Now how have these few survived while all their brothers are dead? The answer to this question is in evolution. Some of the bacteria have evolved to survive the antibiotics. Scientists and Doctors know about this and hence they prescribe a particular dose and course. They ensure that even evolved bacteria die by giving the sufficient quantity of antibiotics.
But you screwed it all up by skipping the doses and ignoring the course.
Now the evil bugs which are left alive spread from you to the world. They reproduce and copy the drug resistant “evolution” to all their children.
Just like your parents keep telling you to learn their “sanskar”.
And very soon, you have an army of bugs completely resistant to one drug.
How these one drug resistant bugs become Superbugs, is an even scarier story.
Remember in exams we used to assign one chapter to every friend so we can cheat and answer questions from all chapters? Bacteria do the same!
Scientists have found that there are ways by which different microbes “cheat” if they happen to be near each other. This way they can be resistant to even more drugs by simply copy-pasting.
Now where can these tiny villains hang out? Your gut is one likely place.
So there might be a bacteria-baithak happening in your stomach right now to form the next Superbug.
Well, that’s scary. How do we save ourselves from Superbugs?
Scientists are working on new methods to fight Superbug, and WHO has released guidelines for doctors and patients to help prevent new Superbugs from coming up.
Here are three things you should do to save us from Superbug. As memes!
You know all your friends are making the same mistakes you did. Tell them!