What You Need to Know to Protect Your Family from Superbugs as Antibiotic Resistance Reaches Crisis Level

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Antibiotics have saved lives since 1942 when the first person was saved using the first antibiotic, penicillin. However, since then, overuse and permeation of life-saving drugs into our environment and water sources has caused drug resistance in once easy-to-cure strains of bacteria and fungi.

As preppers, we prepare for disasters, but most don’t know that we are no longer waiting for a particularly serious disaster. The apocalypse has already arrived.

Superbugs are here and they are a serious threat.

The CDC recently published a troubling report about antibiotic resistance called Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States. Here are two excerpts that get right to the point:

Untreatable or pan-resistant infections are no longer a future threat—they are a reality. Around the world, including in the United States, people are dying from infections for which effective antibiotics are not available. In fact, many experts, including at CDC, believe we are already in a ‘post-antibiotic’ era. (CDC, pg. 34)

Human waste (poop) can carry traces of previously consumed antibiotics and antibiotic-resistant germs. Waste goes to treatment plants and is released as treated wastewater. This can contribute to antibiotic resistance in the environment, including contaminating lakes and streams.” (pg. 26)

We are not preparing for the post-antibiotic era, we are experiencing it right now.

The International Business Times Reports:

“This is not some mystical apocalypse or fear-mongering. It is reality,” Dr. Victoria Fraser from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis told NBC News. “We are faced with trying to take care of patients who have drug-resistant infections that we have no treatment for.” (source)

How did this happen?

What causes drug resistance in fungi and bacterial infections? The CDC released a harrowing diagram in its 2019 report showing the process. It puts the information in almost “cute” picture form on page 18 in the section titled How Antibiotic Resistance Happens: Antibiotic Exposure and the Spread of Germs. This one diagram paints the literal picture of the dissolution of the foundation of modern medicine: antibiotics.

Increases in antibiotic resistance are driven by a combination of germs exposed to antibiotics, and the spread of those germs and their mechanisms of resistance. This naturally occurring process is accelerated when antibiotics are constantly present in the environment or in the germs’ hosts (e.g., patients). (CDC, pg. 18)

What this means is that bacteria and fungi are learning how to survive in this world that is drenched in the poison that was once deadly to them: antibiotics. And the most terrifying thing is that germs are able to share this information with other deadly microorganisms that live in their world of disease. Once they are able to evolve to either resist or expel the drug from their little “bodies,” antibiotic resistance has taken hold.

Fewer people are dying, but the number of deaths is still high.

However, all is not lost. Since 2013, the number of fatalities dues to antibiotic resistance has decreased:

New CDC data show that while the burden of antibiotic-resistance threats in the United States was greater than initially understood, deaths are decreasing since the 2013 report. (source)

But they still acknowledge that 35,000 deaths are still far too many:

Yet the number of people facing antibiotic resistance in the United States is still too high. More than 2.8 million antibiotic-resistant infections occur in the United States each year, and more than 35,000 people die as a result. In addition, nearly 223,900 people in the United States required hospital care for C. difficile and at least 12,800 people died in 2017. (source)

However, some news sources disagree with the CDC report and say the number of deaths is on the rise, reports the International Business Times:

The results of the 2019 report are also higher than in the previous AR threat report published in 2013. It was found at the time that around 2 million people suffered from drug-resistant infections, with nearly 23,000 dying from said infections. (source)

We are running out of treatment options.

In addition to burgeoning drug resistance to bacteria and fungal infections the world over that has the CDC on high alert, drug companies have all but halted their pursuit of “new” antibiotics citing financial issues and lack of willingness to invest in the lengthy and not-always-successful process.

The CDC’s report laid out in no uncertain terms that we cannot rely on the invention of new drugs. Their report from 2019 states that “Since 1990, 78% of major drug companies have scaled back or cut antibiotic research due to development challenges.” (pg. 34) This is despite the fact that every day there are more strains that are resistant to common antibiotic treatments of common diseases. Among the common diseases that are becoming more and more difficult to treat at gonorrhea, strep throat, and the common yeast infection. (pg. 103)

Here is a list of the most urgent threats we are facing.

The CDC has ranked three groups of antibiotic risks, labeling different bacteria and fungus strains in their AR Threats Report. Below is a list of the “Urgent” threats as listed by the CDC:

In 2013, CDC published the first AR Threats Report, which sounded the alarm to the danger of antibiotic resistance. The report stated that each year in the U.S. at least 2 million people get an antibiotic-resistant infection, and at least 23,000 people die. The 2013 AR Threats Report helped inform the National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria.  The 2013 and 2019 reports do not include viruses (e.g., HIV, influenza) or parasites. (source)

Bacteria and Fungi Listed in the 2019 AR Threats Report:

Urgent Threats

Carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter

  • Type: Bacteria
  • About: Carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter cause pneumonia and wound, bloodstream, and urinary tract infections. Nearly all these infections happen in patients who recently received care in a healthcare facility.
  • Estimated cases in hospitalized patients in 2017: 8,500
  • Estimated deaths in 2017: 700

Drug-resistant Candida auris (C. auris)

  • Type: Fungus
  • About: C. auris is an emerging multidrug-resistant yeast. It can cause severe infections and spreads easily between hospitalized patients and nursing home residents.
  • Clinical cases in 2018: 323

Clostridioides difficile (C. difficile)

  • Type: Bacteria
  • Also known as: C. difficile or C. diff, previously Clostridium difficile
  • About: C. difficile causes life-threatening diarrhea and colitis (inflammation of the colon), mostly in people who have had both recent medical care and antibiotics.
  • Infections per year: 223,900
  • Deaths per year: 12,800

Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE)

  • Type: Bacteria
  • Also known as: Nightmare bacteria
  • About: CRE are a major concern for patients in healthcare facilities. Some Enterobacteriaceae (a family of germs) are resistant to nearly all antibiotics, leaving more toxic or less effective treatment options.
  • Estimated cases in hospitalized patients in 2017: 13,100
  • Estimated deaths in 2017: 1,100

Drug-resistant Neisseria gonorrhoeae (N. gonorrhoeae)

  • Type: Bacteria
  • Also known as: Drug-resistant gonorrhea
  • About: N. gonorrhoeae causes the sexually transmitted disease gonorrhea that can result in life-threatening ectopic pregnancy and infertility, and can increase the risk of getting and giving HIV.
  • Estimated drug-resistant infections per year: 550,000

What can you do to prepare?

The CDC report says that without new technologies, the number one protection will be prevention.

Countless times in the report, they emphasize community protection by vaccination and, most importantly, hand washing.

(Paraphrased) “In the United States, infection prevention activities have proven effective in slowing the spread of resistant germs. This includes:

Strategies to decrease spread within healthcare settings (e.g., implementing hand hygiene)

Vaccinating

Implementing biosecurity measures on farms

Responding rapidly to unusual genes and germs when they first appear. (pg. 10)

Preventing infections in the first place: Close contact (direct or indirect) with a person carrying a resistant germ—for example, this can happen when healthcare providers move from one patient to the next without washing their hands (pg. 9)

Here are the preventive measures the CDC recommends.

The report continues with more specific information on prevention. In particular, page 30 provides a diagram showing how to protect yourself and your family. Number 2 on the list is “clean your hands.”

Infections caused by antibiotic-resistant germs are difficult, and sometimes impossible, to treat—but we can help stop the spread of these germs. Antibiotic resistance happens when germs like bacteria and fungi develop the ability to defeat the drugs designed to kill them.

No one can completely avoid getting an infection, but there are steps you can take to reduce your risk.

Know Your Risks, Ask Questions, & Take Care: Ask your healthcare provider about risks for certain infections and sepsis. Speak up with questions or concerns. Keep cuts clean and covered until healed, and take good care of chronic conditions, like diabetes or heart disease.

Clean Your Hands: Keeping your hands clean is one of the best ways to prevent infections, avoid getting sick, and prevent spreading germs.

Get Vaccinated: Vaccines are an important step to prevent infections, including resistant infections.

Be Aware of Changes in Your Health: Talk to your healthcare provider about how to recognize signs and symptoms of infections, or if you think you have an infection. If an infection isn’t stopped, it can lead to additional complications like sepsis, a life-threatening medical emergency.

Use Antibiotics Appropriately: Talk with your healthcare provider or veterinarian about the best treatment when you, your family, or your animal is sick. Antibiotics save lives, but any time they are used they can cause side effects and lead to antibiotic resistance.

Practice Healthy Habits Around Animals: Always clean your hands after touching, feeding, or caring for animals, and keep your animals healthy.

Prepare Food Safely: Follow four simple steps to avoid foodborne infections. Clean your hands, cooking utensils, and surfaces. Separate raw meat from other foods. Cook foods to safe temperatures. Chill leftovers and other foods promptly.

Stay Healthy When Traveling Abroad: Be vigilant when traveling abroad. Know what vaccinations are needed, check health alerts, stick to safe food and drinks, plan in advance in case you get sick, and learn about the risks of medical tourism.

Prevent STDs: Gonorrhea, a common STD, can be resistant to the drugs designed to treat it. The only way to avoid STDs is to not have sex. If you have sex, lower your risk by choosing safer sexual activities and using condoms the right way from start to finish. You and your partner should be treated right away if you test positive to keep from getting infected again. (p. 27)

Handwashing is one of the most important things you can do.

The CDC has a separate and detailed website page on hand-washing showing the statistics of disease prevention:

Teaching people about handwashing helps them and their communities stay healthy. Handwashing education in the community:

Reduces the number of people who get sick with diarrhea by 23-40%

Reduces diarrheal illness in people with weakened immune systems by 58%

Reduces respiratory illnesses, like colds, in the general population by 16-21%

Reduces absenteeism due to gastrointestinal illness in schoolchildren by 29-57% (source)

Handwashing helps battle the rise in antibiotic resistance, the CDC says:

Preventing sickness reduces the amount of antibiotics people use and the likelihood that antibiotic resistance will develop. Handwashing can prevent about 30% of diarrhea-related sicknesses and about 20% of respiratory infections (e.g., colds). Antibiotics often are prescribed unnecessarily for these health issues 14. Reducing the number of these infections by washing hands frequently helps prevent the overuse of antibiotics—the single most important factor leading to antibiotic resistance around the world. Handwashing can also prevent people from getting sick with germs that are already resistant to antibiotics and that can be difficult to treat.

Estimated global rates of handwashing after using the toilet are only 19%. (source)

The horrifying statistic here is that only 19% of people across the globe are washing their hands after using the bathroom. It’s not a wonder that antibiotic-resistant disease is reaching the crisis point.

The urgency found in the “Forward” of the report written by Robert R. Redfield, M.D. Director, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is very telling of the dire situation in which we find ourselves globally.

To stop antibiotic resistance, our nation must:

Stop referring to a coming post-antibiotic era—it’s already here. You and I are living in a time when some miracle drugs no longer perform miracles and families are being ripped apart by a microscopic enemy. The time for action is now and we can be part of the solution.

Stop playing the blame game. Each person, industry, and country can affect the development of antibiotic resistance. We each have a role to play and should be held accountable to make meaningful progress against this threat.

Stop relying only on new antibiotics that are slow getting to market and that, sadly, these germs will one day render ineffective. We need to adopt aggressive strategies that keep the germs away and infections from occurring in the first place.

Stop believing that antibiotic resistance is a problem “over there” in someone else’s hospital, state, or country—and not in our own backyard. Antibiotic resistance has been found in every U.S. state and in every country across the globe. There is no safe place from antibiotic resistance, but everyone can take action against it. Take action where you can, from handwashing to improving antibiotic use.

The problem will get worse if we do not act now, but we can make a difference.

Simply, here’s what works. Preventing infections protects everyone. Improving antibiotic use in people and animals slows the threat and helps preserve today’s drugs and those yet to come. Detecting threats and implementing interventions to keep germs from becoming widespread saves lives.

These actions are protecting us today and will continue to protect us, our families, and our nation from a threat that will never stop. I’m proud to serve alongside the experts who refuse to let this threat disarm us and who are diligently protecting our future by putting science and public health into action.

We all have a role to play. We hope the 2019 AR Threats Report inspires you to act now. (source)

He’s right. We all have our role to play. And at minimum as preppers, we should secure our supplies of clean water and soap and use them unfailingly. We are the first line of defense. Act like it.

Wash your hands.

What do you think?

Are you concerned about the rise in antibiotic-resistant infections? Are there things your family is doing to protect yourselves? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Related Reading

WHO’s 2050 Prediction: 10 Million People Could Die from Mutated Superbugs And We’ll Have No Drugs to Fight Them

Is CBD the Answer to the Rise in Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Like MRSA?

A Prepper’s Guide to MRSA (and a Cautionary Tale)

The Grim Reality of Survival Medicine in Austere Conditions

About Jenny Jayne

Jenny Jayne is the mother of two wonderful boys on the Autism spectrum and is passionate about Autism Advocacy. She is a novelist who writes Post-apocalyptic fiction and a freelance writer. Her first novel is coming soon to Kindle eBooks near you. Her guilty pleasures are preparing for hurricanes, drinking hot coffee, eating milk chocolate, reading romances, and watching The Office for the 50th time. Her website: https://jennyjayneauthor.wordpress.com/

Jenny Jayne

Jenny Jayne

About Jenny Jayne Jenny Jayne is the mother of two wonderful boys on the Autism spectrum and is passionate about Autism Advocacy. She is a novelist who writes Post-apocalyptic fiction and a freelance writer. Her first novel is coming soon to Kindle eBooks near you. Her guilty pleasures are preparing for hurricanes, drinking hot coffee, eating milk chocolate, reading romances, and watching The Office for the 50th time. Her website: https://jennyjayneauthor.wordpress.com/

Leave a Reply

  • Long before penicillin there was silver. No drug resistance there.

    I take colloidal silver (home made) beginning in October and ending when flu season is winding down to avoid a cold or dose of the flu. This year my wife got sick with the flu (very sick) and she was kind enough to share it with me. I got mildly sick, and that was the first time in a number of years that I’ve gotten sick.

    While there are no ‘clinical studies’ that I’m aware of, my experience is that colloidal silver works.

    • Yes!!! I was having a bout of UTI’s for over a year. Antibiotics would clear it up for awhile, but upon ceasing the prescriptions, the infection would come right back. I spent hundreds of dollars in fees and prescription meds. I took the advice of a medical practitioner and used colloidal silver. I have not had an infection since then, nor have I been sick.

  • Instead of running to the doctor to get antibiotics for every sniffle, it is wise to practice building up the immune system. Old Critter (aka Hubby) and I have taken vitamins A and C for years and we use colloidal silver when needed. We have NOT been sick hardly ever for years (except for seasonal allergies on my part) and have not taken antibiotics for so long that I cannot remember. Colloidal silver kills germs longer on surfaces than hand sanitizer. As soon as the hand sanitizer dries, it is no longer killing germs (I learned that from a doctor on TV). I took a spray bottle of colloidal silver to the Amazon with me on a mission trip and sprayed it on my face and neck daily. It is easier to get sick with foreign country germs that we are not used to. I did not get sick whatsoever even after taking a couple of baths with nasty dirty Amazon river water. I only did that twice and used baby wipes instead for the remainder of the time. One reason so many people get sick is that they try to sanitize themselves too much. Get out and play in the dirt!

  • Way to many people just run out and get an antibiotic for everything, even if it is a virus.
    I know more than a few people who will keep antibiotics from some previous use, then use it for something totally unrelated and possibly it is the wrong antibiotic.

    • Exactly. This is a big part of the problem. What some are suggesting is to use better testing methods so that the correct antibiotic can be used the first time.

  • These are perilous days.. Rabid liberals have openly threatened the Presidents life. Please pray for the divine intervention & protection of Pres Trump from every evil scheme against him.

  • What totally bogus article. This article is supposed to be about antibiotic resistant bacteria. Anyone with just a little knowledge of the subject knows that vaccinations do nothing to prevent bacterial diseases; they only deal with viral diseases.
    But the author had to mention vaccinations anyway, proving to me that she has an agenda behind the article.

    • Good catch. I thought it odd to have mentioned vaccines as well. I would have thought with a site with the name “The Organic Prepper” there would be no talk of vaccines. Basically all there was, was to wash hands, get a vaccine, cook food, wash hands again, and dont race to get antibiotics.

    • There ARE vaccinations for bacterial infections, including TB, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus – those are all bacterial. I’m not saying everyone should run out and get vaccinated (I opt out myself), but as a person with a background in health sciences I felt the need to clarify.

  • Good, informative article.

    I personally have trained myself to live with very little water situations.

    During a five year period, I rarely washed my hands except when at a business. Instead, I used hand sanitizer before and after everything. I field washed daily, but stopped once my body developed beneficial external bacteria. I did have a bidet. I used cheap prep gloves when handling raw meats, making cheese/yogurt, or baking breads. I became sick ONCE IN FIVE YEARS, and that was from a national restaurant’s poor food handling practice.

    A reliable multivitamin and heavy doses of a ‘live’ vit C, ginger, and garlic will quickly knock out cold or flu. I feel better almost immediately of contracting the bug and I am cured within a day or two.

  • Tactic that worked for me: Treatment of UTI, obvious clearing of blood in urine, relief of severe burning and pain within 4 hours.

    1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of Baking Soda in about 1/2 cup water

    Drank it down, waited a few minutes.

    Follow that with home made “Silver Water” ….maybe a cup.

    Repeat now and then.

    What that does:

    The Baking Soda converts stomach acid into salt and carbon dioxide gas [BURP ! ]

    The salt absorbs into the blood making it “thirsty” for more water to flush the excess salt out with.

    Add “Silver Water” to satisfy the thirst….instant absorption and little or no stomach acid to make [nearly insoluble hard to absorb] “Silver Chloride”

    Most recently used to knock out a sinus infection that had spread to my eye sockets and inner ears making me very dizzy.
    Direct application by nose sprayer did the job on the sinuses and eyes, but wasn’t chasing the inner ear problem adequately.
    Worked like a champ!

  • We’re doing pretty good at not getting sick. We just finished a cold we caught from our granddaughter who got it at pre-school. There are lots of natural things to do to boost the immune system. Our immune systems can fight back most things if we give it a lot of support.

    Our first rule is to rarely have sugary food. A little maple syrup on the oatmeal is not going to hurt, but full-on dessert will take down the immune system. Bacteria and viruses love sugar.

    We also support the immune system with cod liver oil. Yes, that’s what I wrote. I swear by it when I am sick or feel run down. Vitamin A and D as well as omegas. Vitamin A supports the thyroid and D supports the immune system. The lemon or orange flavored CLO goes down real easy.

    We also use real silverware. It came to us as a boon, but I’ve seen a lot of pieces in secondhand and antique shops for fairly cheap if you don’t mind mixing up the patterns. Silver has natural antibiotic properties. Real silverware is a lot cheaper and as effective in the long run as colloidal.

    Herbs such as oregano, thyme, marjoram and their essential oils are amazing at beating back bacterial infections. See, Herbal Antibiotics by Stephan Buhner.

    Washing hands in hot soapy water is as effective as hand-sanitizer. When I am not able to wash my hands after being in a public place I use Thieves oil spritz or rolled on is as effective as a sanitizer and doesn’t lose it’s effect as quickly as Purell, etc. Thieves oil is a combination of cinnamon, clove, orange, rosemary and eucalyptus essential oils. The spritzer is combined with witchhazel. I keep thieves oil in my everyday carry. Works! Uplifting too. People are always going, Mmmmm when they smell it. It also protects the lining of your nose when you breathe it off your hands.

    • Great tips! Thank you so much for sharing about Thieves. I use it for my children. I will check out Herbal Antibiotics. Thank you for the book recommendation!

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