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Antibiotic use by previous patients mean hospital beds increase risk of infection


(NaturalNews) At the Columbia University Medical Center in New York, researchers examined what antibiotics are capable of doing to the microenvironment surrounding patients. This is the environment we cannot see with the naked eye, the environment of microorganisms that is always interacting with us and between us. Dr. Daniel Freedberg and his colleagues took a closer look at hospital beds where previous patients had been given antibiotics.

The researchers reported in JAMA Internal Medicine that "antibiotics given to one patient may alter the local microenvironment to influence a different patient's risk." The researchers found that a common infection in U.S. hospitals that causes diarrhea, clostridium difficile (C. diff), becomes more pervasive and more deadly after a patient has taken antibiotics. Most shocking of all is that patients who used antibiotics left behind a microenvironment that put the next patient at greater risk for a C. diff infection.

Using antibiotics puts others at risk

The study shows that use of antibiotics actually puts others at risk because they destabilize the healthy terrain and ecology of the environment nearby, thereby depleting good microbes that help humans defend against infection.

Dr. Freedberg noted, "Other studies have also demonstrated that antibiotics can have a 'herd' effect - in other words, that antibiotics can affect people who do not themselves receive the antibiotics." Freedberg and his colleagues investigated more than 100,000 pairs of patients, and compared the microenvironment left behind by patients who were taking antibiotics. Their research ruled out any patient who had occupied the bed for less than 24 hours. They also ruled out any patients who recently had a C. diff infection.

After ruling out these factors, the researchers found that 500 patients developed a C. diff infection at the hospital as the second bed occupant. C. diff infections were 22 percent more likely to occur on hospital beds where the previous occupant had received antibiotics. When C. diff microorganisms are exposed to antibiotics, they let off an explosion of spores which spreads on the hospital bed, down to the floor and into the surrounding environment.

"The next patient who enters the room is thus more likely to be exposed to C. diff spores," said Freedberg. "It's not easy to sterilize the room/bed between patients because C. diff spores are extremely hardy. To be killed, they need to be soaked in a bleach-containing cleaning agent for an adequate amount of time."

This is a significant finding, since nearly half of patients in acute care facilities are on antibiotics. These antibiotics-ridden patients are literally vectors for disease, spreading infectious spores to others.

Shortfalls of the germ theory and modern medicine's attempt to control microorganisms

The germ theory, which permeates modern day thinking about sickness, is the idea that humans are separate from microorganisms and that germs must be controlled. In some ways the germ theory is beneficial in helping us identify potentially infectious pathogens and in striving to maintain cleanliness and proper sanitation. However, the germ theory neglects the all-important relationship that we have with our own bodies and our microbial environment. Our microbiome plays a central role in determining our resiliency toward sickness.

In terms of the germ theory, we fear what we cannot see, and use antibiotics to annihilate this terrain of micro-ecology. This hasty approach destroys both the infectious pathogens and the good microbes that sustain a healthy ecology within and around us.

As we damage the ecosystem terrain of good bacteria, we enable and embolden the power of infectious pathogens in the long run. As we try to isolate ourselves from microorganisms, we also divert our attention and energy from the important humoral factors that allow our bodies to resiliently defend against pathogens.

Infections try to take advantage of our weakened immunity. The chemicals we inject, eat, breathe, drink and lather up with suppress the microbiome, glands and organ systems, interfering with the body's ability to assimilate nutrients. We cannot neglect what our bodies need and annihilate our microbiome with antibiotics, and then expect to remain well.

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