(NaturalNews) A clever opponent attacks precisely where its enemy is most vulnerable, but don't expect it to just stop there. In what may soon become the newest, most fatal consequence in the marriage of conventional medicine and irresponsible, narcissistic technology, an emerging family of drug-resistant bacteria, that's been quietly preying on patients of hospitals and nursing homes for more than a decade, are gaining strength, making headlines and raising concern across the country.
Though it may have been slow to emerge, with the first known case having been reported in 2001 in North Carolina, the deadly bacteria known as Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) has since become quite efficient in its attack, killing 40 percent of infected patients -- a death rate far surpassing those of other better-known infections like MRSA and C-Diff. Named for their ability to tolerate carbapenem antibiotics, which are considered the last line of defense by medical practitioners, outbreaks have now been reported in all but eight of the 50 states in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And due, at least in part, to improper laboratory analysis, many other cases remain officially undocumented. Contributing to the problem, too, is a lack of reliable national data on the full scope of the issue. Hospital staff still don't have enough information on what trends to watch for -- much less on how to effectively screen for the bacteria or identify and isolate patients who may be carrying it.
Plus, as if to add insult to injury, the bacteria have developed the ability to share resistance genes with other members of the same family of bacteria, meaning essentially that they can jump from one species of bacteria to another, forming entirely new "carbapenem-defying bugs" along the way. The potential consequences of this worst-case-scenario type of transfer are exponential. As resistance spreads to more common strains of the bacteria, illnesses like urinary tract infections which are now considered routine and treatable, might fast become untreatable, or worse. And should this resistance trend carry over to bacteria even outside the healthcare system, people could potentially become exposed through the simplest of daily activities -- a hug, or a handshake.
Don't look for help from the drug companies that got us into this
Even if CRE infections were easier to identify, little hope exists for modern medicine's ability to innovate a way out of this pretty pickle. Against CRE's fast-adapting resistance, only a small number of medicine's most potent treatments (including one antibiotic so toxic that it was shelved decades ago) demonstrate marginal effectiveness, at best. And there is little hope for better news than that. Even if a new, effective treatment could be conceived, there really is no financial incentive for drug companies to invest in its development. Why spend all that money on a potentially life-saving drug administered only until recovery, when there's so much more money to be made in continuing to drain the resources of growing numbers of chronically ill people who depend on life-long medications?
And there's no glimmer of hope to be found among the antibiotics currently in development either, according to Gary Roselle, a doctor, and director of the Infectious Diseases Services for the Department of Veterans Affairs healthcare system. "The reality is, [CRE infections] are remarkably difficult to treat, they often have bad outcomes ... and they're increasing nationally," Roselle says. "I'm assuming this is going to get worse, and there likely won't be new antibiotics to treat it in the near future; so the focus has to be on prevention."
But the threat looms large, leaving little room for optimism among those who already suffer from compromised immune systems. Continued spread of CRE would likely cause radical devastation among hospital units specializing in techniques and treatments (organ transplants, chemotherapy) entirely dependent upon the ability to control infections in patients with impaired immune function.
"My concern is that there aren't a lot of methods in our tool kit that are significantly effective in curbing the spread of these infections," says Eli Perencevich, an infectious-disease doctor and professor at the University of Iowa's Carver College of Medicine. "These [bacteria] are going to greatly impact the kind of surgeries [and] treatments we can have. We're entering the post-antibiotic era; that's a very big problem."
Natural healing is your only fighting chance
Though the picture looks quite bleak from a medical perspective, one thing, in nature at least, holds true: Sometimes the most promising offense is a good defense. That means a healthy immune system. But immune systems don't repair themselves overnight, and when it comes to preparing yourself for a potential CRE superbug infection, there's just not time to play around. If you're serious about protecting your health, you'll want to get started sooner rather than later. In the second part of this two-part series, Natural News takes a look at the most effective ways to repair, rebuild and maintain a strong and healthy immune system.