When you hear someone who tells you about a microbe that seems to be immune to the latest medicine that science has to offer, you would probably think that they are either talking about the latest science fiction movie or medical thriller novel. In an article by Jessica Snyder Sachs titled “DNA Pollution May Be Spawning Killer Microbes,” she shows us that the reality is much closer to home than we realize. Sachs takes us on a journey from Colorado State University to the University of Illinois where different researchers are studying the reasons why these types of microbes have come into existence.
Their study shows that these drug-resistant germs are a result of DNA pollution. DNA, which according to a book by Stuart Levy, a microbiologist from Tufts University, are not just the result of a simple mutation but more of evolution. The bacteria, it seems, not just get different DNA from other dead microorganisms but also swap them with those of other species. The resulting DNA strains make bacteria that are more resistant to drugs and pose more of a danger than the AIDS virus.
The danger that these advanced DNA strain poses is magnified due to the fact that it does not only exclusively come from the different bacteria but also from the ground that we step on. The way we clean up our wastes is seen as a reason for the emergence of these strains. As a result of standard sewage treatment, bacteria get genes that are immune to antibiotics. A study conducted in Ontario’s McMaster University also revealed that organisms found in soils are rich with these drug-resistant DNA. They found out that excessive use of pharmaceuticals on livestock made the ground loaded with these DNA strains.
It appears that our practice of using different drugs to prevent diseases is the very reason why we are facing these new drug-resistant microbes. A solution, as the article stated, is not in banning the use of pharmaceuticals, but rather using it in moderation. Reaction Jessica Snyder Sachs’ article is not only well written but also very informative. As an informative article, it delivers facts very well. The article however seems to be focused more on the academic side. That is, a person would need a higher degree of learning in order to appreciate it.
The issue of drug-resistant microbes is something that concerns not only for researchers put also for the general populace. The writer could have chosen to cite simpler examples of diseases that are resistant to drugs. For example, the methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus pathogen or MRSA, which the article states has killed more people in the United States than the AIDS virus. By mentioning or relating a pathogen to a disease that would be familiar to average readers, then no further research would be required and the value of why this particular pathogen is dangerous will be fully recognized.
The author was also careful in not citing too much from Stuart Levy’s book. Had she done so, the article would have become more of a book review instead of an article about how DNA mutation changed the composition of microbes. What she did was instead focus on one particular reason which was the use of medicine. In doing so, the writer manages to get right to the point. The article could have also expounded on the steps done by governments with regards to the rise of these types of bacteria. This seemingly oversight however could well be forgiven given that the aim of the article is about the origins of the bacteria.
Finally, the article was written in a straightforward manner and does not deviate much from the main topic. It further gives the reader an overview of how drug-resistant microbes came to be and how they were eventually discovered. It is actually hard to see if the author does have any biases given that the article puts more emphasis on informing rather than to making the reader decide on something. In this regard, the article really did very well. Intellectual Benefit I believe that the issue presented in the article is very timely.
Timely because it made me realize that indeed, too much of something is really not good. It seems that because of our obsession to stay healthy always, we are now faced with more dangers than before. I was actually surprised to learn that most of the treated sewage is used as fertilizer. It is really hard to imagine that something was grown using human waste. It was also remarkable to learn that bacteria swap genes not only with those of there own species but also with other kinds of bacteria. On a positive note, this knowledge could likely help more advances in medicine.
I also liked the fact that the research is being done not only by scientist but even by graduate students as stated in the article. I have always believed that studies like these are typically done in laboratories with million dollar equipment. It is a relief therefore to learn that even universities are doing something to tackle the problem. What saddens me is the idea that there are probably only few people who realize that drug-resistant microbes do exist. It was shocking to learn that the MRSA pathogen is not acquired outside but even in hospitals. Hospitals that tend to use antibiotics on a regular basis.
The article mainly taught me that when it comes to taking medicines, it is not good to overdo it but instead use it in moderation. As I have further learned from the article, we are years behind on the research for these drug-resistant microbes. I hope that with all these people working on the issue and the advances that science has made, the problem will be put on hold or if not, totally eliminated. Hopefully in the years to come, the idea of germs that are resistant to the latest medicines and drugs would remain as something that is found only in movies and books.
Courtney from Study Moose
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