Thursday, October 1, 2009

Spring Break With MRSA

It’s hard to believe MRSA could survive on a beach in Washington State but then again, it’s easy to believe we’ve evolved a pathogen to survive anything we, or nature can throw at it. The knee jerk reaction to anything from the sniffles to the plague is antibiotics and this begins with infants and finally ends as the nearly dead are pumped full of the stuff to stave death of for just a little while longer. We funnel the antibiotics into our sewer systems and along with other popular chemicals like cocaine, caffeine, estrogen, and high fructose corn syrup and we’ve managed to turn water into a chemical cocktail, blindly designed.
When antibiotics were invented shortly after World War Two no one foresaw how widespread they would be used, and what the consequences of that use might be. Evolution, whether you believe it is real or some sort of atheistic conspiracy to take prayer out of schools, has been hard at work making the germs once susceptible to antibiotics into germs now resistant to the drugs. As we have made life harder and harder for these germs, we’ve also managed to make them harder and harder to kill.
The idea there is a pathogen sunning itself of a beach is a bizarre thought. Salt-water surf, unrelenting sun, and bare sand wouldn’t be the first place I would look for a germ, but then again, if you listen to those evil people who believe such, that is where life on earth began. Dueling theories on exogenesis aside, MRSA has hit the beach, and we haven’t a weapon in sight that might drive it back into the sea.
This is the enemy we know, who we’ve looked for, and who is detectable. We have no idea what sort of problems are going to evolve from out dumping of billions of gallons of estrogen treated water into the aquifer. We have no idea what the residual effects of cocaine might be as it enters humans through the water system. We have no idea the synergy of the various compounds we flush through our bodies and into the water, but we do know our bodies react poorly when poisoned with too much of anything. Can we believe that our water system, tainted to some degree we can only guess, will be any better for us than we’ve been to it?
The truly scary thing that arises from this is we had no idea MRSA could live on a beach, and once we discovered it there the response from the local health officials was to advice that beachgoers shower as soon as they were done frolicking with infection. This is akin to advising people who have sex with infected partners to showers as soon as they are done, and hope for the best. Considering the number of people who do less than even that simple precaution, hoping for the best is unwise.
The American culture, no pun intended, has a certain false sense of transcendence when it comes to nature. We tend to view nature as something we can, and need to conquer. We tend to view solutions to problems as how to destroy rather than how to cope or coexist. Not that I am recommending we coexist with MRSA, but had we learned to cope with lesser diseases rather than amping up the evolution, we wouldn’t have the problems we have today.
Take Care,
Mike

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