Superbugs: Infection Apocalypse

Superbugs: Infection Apocalypse


(ominous music) – [Voiceover] From UFOs to psychic powers and government conspiracies, history is riddled with
unexplained events. You can turn back now or learn the stuff they don’t want you to know. Here are the facts. Disease has shaped humanity, leaving indelible marks
on our civilizations and our DNA. The black plague, caused by a bacteria known as yersinia pestis killed as many as 200,000,000
people across Eurasia, fundamentally altering the
course of human history. The war between human beings and disease continues today. Fortunately, our species
found a super weapon, antibiotics. Administered in dilute solutions, these substances can
kill the micro-organisms responsible for everything
from a sore throat to pneumonia, but this is not the end of the story. From China to the UK and Madagascar, scientists across the world have found antibiotics growing less effective. The bacteria are evolving,
forcing our species to ask a terrifying question. What happens when the
medicine stops working? Here’s where it gets crazy. Multiple bacterial infections
are exhibiting resistance to one or more types
of commonly prescribed antibiotics, such as
penicillin and amoxicillin. While it sounds like something out of a sci-fi horror film, it’s entirely possible
that a future superbug may spread across the globe, a fatal infection immune
to modern medicine. To understand how this could occur, we must first look at
the life of bacteria. Every 20 minutes, a
bacteria cell can divide, meaning that if we begin
with one bacterium, at the end of an hour,
we would have eight. Bacteria, like any other life form, adapts to environmental pressures. This is, put simply,
evolution in fast forward. When doctors over-prescribe antibiotics, we create opportunities
for bacteria to adapt and cultivate resistance to medicine. Other factors are at play as well. Antibiotics aren’t just used for people and they aren’t just used for the sick. In the U.S. alone, the livestock industry uses almost 25 million pounds
of antibiotics each year, dosing hogs, chickens, and cows, not because they are ill, but because it has a
marginal effect on the weight of the animal and in theory, prevents the infections
common in factory farming. This also creates a
massive evolution factory for the bacteria infecting these animals. Eventually, one of these
bugs could transmit to human hosts. All of these disturbing facts
lead to one big question. What about the pharmaceutical companies? Why can’t they just
create new antibiotics? Unfortunately, most of the
pharmaceutical industry focuses on more profitable drugs. There’s no financial incentive to create new anti-microbial cures. In other words, why make
a drug that saves lives if it doesn’t also make a profit? This is not a conspiracy theory. The human species is looking at a post-antibiotic future, a return to a world
where an ear infection, a sore throat, childbirth or pneumonia could be a death sentence. Where transplants,
surgeries and chemotherapy become a thing of the past. To many, this may seem like alarmism. However, critics note the meat industry doesn’t officially reveal how it uses antibiotics in livestock and asks whether profits should be the guiding path for big pharma. Will the tide of humanities
ancient war against disease turn on the dime of profit? Will human greed trigger the rise of the next superbug? Apparently, that’s something
pharmaceutical companies and livestock tycoons
don’t want you to know. (ominous music) To learn more about the
rise of the superbug, tune into our audio podcast at StuffTheyDontWantYouToKnow.com.