I'm always grateful when a blog reader sends me articles or gives me a heads up about an important topic. I can't possibly read everything or be all places, so input from you is always helpful and appreciated. A reader hooked me up with the recent New York Times piece about c. auris, a superbug that has the medical community astir.
Rightfully so. It's a superbug which as far as we know did not exist before 2009. I find these kinds of stories particularly fascinating because usually we hear about species extinction and how fast we're losing diversity. So it's quite interesting that we have a brand new species, a brand new critter, showing up in our ecosystem. Except this is one we'd rather see extinct.
Resistant infections are now killing 160,000 Americans a year and 700,000 people worldwide. A British study, according to the NYT piece, predicts that in 2050 10 million will die from these infections and only 8 million from cancer. Of course, you and I know that these projections are as accurate as your 3 year old picking the Super Bowl winner 5 years in advance, but it does show the concern in the hearts and minds of the medical community.
The most interesting part of the NYT piece is the tenor, captured presciently in the headline "Spanning the Globe in a Climate of Secrecy." As bad and deadly as this superbug fungal infection is, what's worse is that hospitals and medical professionals refuse to talk about it publicly or let people know which hospitals are most infected with it. Hence the word secrecy in the title of the article.
The smoking gun has not been definitively found, but most researchers think the sudden appearance and pervasiveness of this deadly superbug stems from agricultural fungicides and overuse of antibiotics in animal agriculture. Interestingly, the article never encourages anyone to eat only food grown without any of these things. In fact, it never mentions food.
How hard would it have been for any of the researchers in the piece to note that if people would quit eating food grown with fungicides and antibiotics we could quit creating a habitat for its proliferation? The fact that nothing like this exists in the piece indicates the egregious compartmentalization our culture practices in day-to-day problem solving. That so much attention could be devoted to this superbug without a major alert to quit patronizing agriculture that uses these deadly methods indicates a profound abdication of reasoned safety.
Meanwhile, food safety regulations demand that processing plants use antimicrobials in order to get licensing and comply with government protocols. It's as if we have multiple universes on the same planet, none of which is talking to the others. Fortunately, more and more regular folks like you and me are connecting dots the expert intelligentsia refuses to; you could call it the uberization of the obvious.
We should be outraged that the medical community, to keep patients coming to their hospitals, and to save face, are circling the wagons to keep us ignorant about this raging and deadly superbug. Fortunately, it's fairly opportunistic and attacks primarily immuno-compromised people. Just another reason to eat nutrient dense pasture-based compost-fertilized meat and vegetables.
Have you heard of c. auris?