Wednesday, 21 May 2014


Trying to keep up with who and what to fear and hate can be a bit gruelling. Is it Russians this week we should be cowering from, or perhaps fourth wave feminists or is it the turn of teenagers yet again?
Be afraid! Scary feminists are after you!

A possible solution to this tiring business is to find one thing that we can all agree is the enemy of everybody. That way we can all have one daily dose of panic and terror that doesn’t involve using up so much energy reading papers, surfing the internet or listening to the latest gossip in the gym, pub or local mother and toddler group. We get our quick shot of fear and then get on with studying, working, raising babies, scratching our arse and / or smelling the daffodils.

Fortunately there is one thing that may indeed fit the role of evil and malign terror, and that is BACTERIA… If recent reports are anything to go by it seems that anti-biotic resistant BACTERIA may be about to wipe us all out (even Russian feminist teenagers). If recent media speculation is anything to go by our extinction may happen as soon as next year, next month or even next Thursday. 

The danger we are facing is that antibiotics are becoming less effective at killing bacteria, or rather bacteria are becoming more stubborn in their desire not to be wiped out. A World Health Organisation report spells out the very real dangers  in the treatment in many illness including Gonorrhoea and Tuberculosis. More worryingly the introduction to the report considers that ‘a post-antibiotic era – in which common infections and minor injuries can kill – far from being an apocalyptic fantasy, is instead a very real possibility for the 21st Century.’

However, such a bleak future is not inevitable. Bleak futures never are.  There are reasons why antibiotics are becoming less effective, not least the mass production of antibiotics for profit by pharmaceutical industry and the use of those antibiotics both in the treatment of humans and in farming.  

The WHO report highlights that the over use and inappropriate use of antibiotics has allowed bacteria to build up resistance.  In Ireland the HSE has also drawn attention to this in an online feature bluntly entitled ‘Antibiotics don't work on colds and flu’   which includes charts on sicknesses that do and do not need antibiotics.

The WHO has good advice for what can be done to begin tackling this problem, namely there has to be a reduction in the use of antibiotics in humans and in animals and an increase in hand hygiene. This sounds simple enough but sadly the nature of politics and lobbying will no doubt delay any meaningful action.

 But this does not mean we are powerless. Despite the headlines there are things we can do starting today which will help us look after ourselves and our planet. We can wash our hands properly. We can eat organic food. And we can demand that our elected officials listen to the WHO and not the lobbyist from the pharmaceutical industry.


Of course we can do nothing and when the antibiotic resistant shit hits the fan blame it all on those pesky Russian feminist teenagers.

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