Just like The Disease in The Final Reality, real diseases surrounded us every day. Fortunately our immune system protects us from most of these nasty bugs and those that take hold are usually fought off without consequence. A recent article stated the following:
Many patients infected by the deadly superbug Clostridium difficile, long thought to be contracted mainly during hospital stays, are already exposed when they are admitted to the hospital, U.S. infectious disease experts said on Tuesday.
Rates of C. difficile, the most common hospital-based infection in the USA continue to climb. The infection can cause severe diarrhea, inflammation and bleeding in the colon, and death. C. difficile is linked to more than 14,000 U.S. deaths each year, according to the CDC.
It is especially stubborn in hospitals because of the widespread use of antibiotics, which kill protective bacteria in the gut for months, allowing invaders such as C. difficile to flourish. "Nearly 50 percent of antibiotics are inappropriately prescribed, killing off the natural protective bacteria in our gut," said Dr. Jan Patterson, president of Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America.
The article has a few interesting points. First, it demonstrates the deadly potential of this infection. However, what it does not show is how sick the survivors of the condition are. Many of my patients have had this illness. Despite treatment, they are exhausted, dehydrated and overall miserable. Many have commented to me that this disease was worse than anything they've ever had before. Plus, as a result of the condition many have been left deconditioned or in a weakened state that required long recovery times.
The second point the article highlights the overuse of antibiotics. Because of the inappropriate usage of these drugs in this country, bacteria such as Clostridium difficile are allowed to flourish in the gut, subsequently producing potentially deadly consequences. Overuse of antibiotics also leads to drug resistance and allows for stronger strains of a particular disease to blossom.
Unlike more esoteric conditions we read about around the word, this disease is something we all can and will be exposed to. With the rise in incidence of this bacterial and with the unwanted effects from antibiotics, will this bacteria one day mutate into something stronger, deadlier and potentially untreatable? Unfortunately, this possibility may occur not only for Clostridium difficile but others just like it.