Mike the Mad Biologist

A Reader Request and a Programming Note

While I’m hardly the first blogger to ever wonder about what the bloggysphere likes and dislikes, I’m curious to find out if anyone actually reads the posts about antibiotic resistance.

Typically, I get the occasional comment or email from someone who has suffered personally from these infections. But other than that, I don’t get many site hits or comments (this post was one exception). Mind you, this won’t stop me from commenting on this problem, but I still wonder: does anyone actually read this stuff? Would there be issues related to this topic people would like to hear about?

Because this really does matter. Boring, bacterial infections are a huge public health problem, both in the developing world and in the U.S. In the U.S., 90,000 people per year die from hospital-acquired bacterial infections, which is double the number who die from breast cancer, and five times the number who die from AIDS.

Instead, I get tons of hits for referring to those in the government who believe that the world is 6000 years old as the Easter Bunny wing of the Republican Party. Not that I mind getting that idea out there, mind you, but still, 90,000 dead per year is a little more important. Hell, I even broke a story about possible FDA manipulation of results related to the potential misuse of an antibiotic, and barely a peep. Oh well, at least people paid attention to my posts about the Houston strikers.

Programming note: Thanks to the ScienceBlogs Blogerator 8100, I have the ability to post while not near my computer. Over the next few days, I’ll be posting about antibiotic resistance.

Comments

  1. #1 gordo
    November 22, 2006

    Well, I’m very interested in the problem. But what am I going to say in the comments? I’m against antibiotic resistance?

    A friend of mine recently got a MRSA infection, but since she couldn’t afford health insurance she didn’t go to the doctor until it had gotten really bad. $22,000 worth of care later, she was released from the hospital. That’s more than she makes in a year.

    I understand that this is tangential, but I think that the antibiotic resistance and the lack of health care access come from the same place: a lack of leadership on the issue of public health, and an over-reliance on the profit motive to deliver good public health.

    With a little more courage from the Democratic party, I think that we could have universal access to healthcare in this country. And sound public health policy would also go a long way toward ending the practices that create antibiotic resistance.

    As for profit motive, look at all of the products that we’re sold that sterilize our homes. And how much money do the makers of antibiotics spend marketing their product to doctors, not to mention farmers?

    It’s about time we started thinking of healthcare as a right, not a priviledge. It’s time we started regulating the pharmaceutical industry, and educating the public about the dangers and causes of antibiotic resistance.

  2. #2 Michael Schmidt
    November 22, 2006

    I read all your posts on antibiotic resistance. ButI hesitate from posting comments for lack of anything intelligent to say on the topic. You’re the expert, and that’s one of the reasons I have your blog bookmarked.

  3. #3 Craig Pennington
    November 22, 2006

    I, like the above commenters, read every post I come across on the topic, but rarely comment — what’s to say? I tell my doctors that they don’t need to give me a script if I don’t need it. I only eat antibiotic-free meat (and much less of that.)

    Keep the posts coming.

  4. #4 Susannah
    November 22, 2006

    Yes. I read them. Antibiotic resistance worries me and fascinates me, but I don’t comment. As Michael S. said, you’re the expert.

  5. #5 Eric Juve
    November 22, 2006

    I read all your posts. I guess I am becoming an SB junkie. As for posts on antibiotic resistance, I believe the subject needs all the coverage it can get. One thing for certain, we need to get antibiotics out of agriculture when used simply to increase production. That application in my mind is criminal. Keep up the good work.

  6. #6 Scorpio
    November 22, 2006

    Sure, I read them. I know at least one person who was hit with a flesh-eating version that hospitalized her for weeks. I’m another person who doesn’t head for antibiotics with every sniffle — but that is an unusual thing. It should be a lot more common — we’re breeding bacteria to be ultra-tough.

  7. #7 chezjake
    November 22, 2006

    I read all your posts on anything to do with antibiotics (Tara’s too.), not just those on resistance.

    Perhaps one way to get more hits on the posts regarding agricultural antibiotic use would be to use headlines/tags that attract the interest of the natural food inclined community.

  8. #8 Blaine
    November 22, 2006

    I find all of your posts regarding anti-bacterial resistance useful and informative. On that note, thank you. Until I found your blog I had no conception of just how important and widespread this issue is. For about as long as I can recall, I have worried about antibiotic resistance due to overuse/misuse of antibiotic drugs. I just never had any real data to back up my misgivings…

    Now I regularly email links for your posts to family and friends, hoping to spread the education a bit. I personally rarely comment because I realize that I am not the expert on this issue and that resistance is a pretty frightening prospect. I am not sure how to describe it, but when I read this kind of information, I don’t argue it in my head. I just accept that this is a serious thing. What is there to say? I can’t disagree with you and I certainly wouldn’t have anything intelligent to add to the discussion. The most I can do is maybe take the information and try to teach others, although this has its own problems…

    Several times I have tried to explain why the spectre of antibiotic resistance is important to people and have been rebuffed because I am not “trained” or “educated”. Another common response is denial that the problem even exists. It seems almost paradoxical that many people will only accept the word of a doctor and at the same time deny some information that could save their or their families lives. Is it possibly that people feel they cannot do anything about it? Is it just a lack of knowledge? I am not sure but it is frustrating….

    So again, thanks and keep up the good work. These things do make a difference.

    Cheers!

  9. #9 Alain
    November 22, 2006

    New reader here and this session at university has been rough but I am very interrested about antibiotic.

    Alain

  10. #10 Paul Orwin
    November 22, 2006

    I always read you posts on antibiotics, and don’t let my ignorance stop me from commenting! Keep it up (I don’t know how you find the time…)

  11. #11 murison
    November 23, 2006

    I always (well, almost always) read these posts. Don’t stop. I’m sure there are many of us lurkers out here.

  12. #12 Rob
    November 23, 2006

    I concur with the comments above, but thought I’d just add my name to the roll in show of support for the topic.

    Just last year my wife experienced three rounds of varying antibiotics all in attempt to treat a severly infected toenail bed. Each time the initial doc simply gazed at the toe, wrote the script, and went back to her coffee break/golf links/navel gazing. It wasn’t Staph, and it sure wasn’t fungal – I’m still not sure what it was, but she finally switched to a doctor that actually took a culture and got her onto the correct AB. Sorry for the lack of details, but it was a classic ‘lazy doctor throws ABs at premature diagnosis’ experience. As much as I’d love to skewer idiot doctors, unfortunately we lacked information and didn’t ask the right questions, and that’s where your blog is actually quite helpful/enlightening.
    cheers,
    -Rob

  13. #13 gordo
    November 23, 2006

    If I had known that everyone was going to agree, my comment would have been different. It’s pretty boring to have a discussion that consists mostly of people saying, “You da man!”

    So here’s my revised comment:

    Stop writing about antibiotic resistance! You don’t know what the hell you’re talking about!

    I like the idea of turning my body into a sort of gymnasium for ambitious bacteria. I like the can-do, go-getter spirit of those little guys. Those bacteria have more American Spirit in their mitochondria than you have in your whole body!

    They may be microscopic, but if they all work together they can fell an ox! We should all follow their example!

  14. #14 Tom Phillips
    November 24, 2006

    I read them, the posts about antibiotic misuse and resistance, but they give me nightmares and I’m usually too terrified to comment.