Antimicrobial resistance TV program, 8pm March 19

xx x.x at xx.x
Thu Mar 19 04:09:08 EST 1998

Just a note to those who are interested that 'Quantum', the ABC TV 
science program, will air an half-hour special on antibiotic resistance
at 8pm on Thursday, March 19, 1998.

The program talks to a number of researchers in the field, including
Stuart Levy in Boston and John Turnidge in Adelaide, and takes a hard
look at the animal link to the rise of resistance,

Below is the synopsis from our website. Hope thos of you that are able
to watch will.


Wilson da Silva 
ABC TV Science Unit


``PASSING THE BUG ... The end of antibiotics? 	
8.00 pm, Thursday March 19, 1998

We are running out of antibiotics. The microbes are fighting back, they
have developed resistance to our most powerful biological weapons - and
they are invading our hospitals.
 	Already, microbes resistant to the most powerful and most toxic
antibiotic, Vancomycin, have sprung up in European and American
hospitals. Once in the bloodstream of seriously ill patients, they have
a 60 per cent chance of dying. Doctors can do little else than watch and
hope that a patient's own immune system will fight it off. 
	 In 1994, this microbe -- VRE -- arrived in Australia; there have been
60 cases around the country, six of them fatal. Doctors are so worried
they are isolating patients with any hint of the bug, even if they are
not very ill.
	 In Japan, the doomsday scenario that had long been feared is emerging:
the golden staph germ that used to plague hospitals and kill 80 per cent
of its victims once in the bloodstream has returned. And it is resistant
to just about every antibiotic, including Vancomycin. Within months,
cases of the superbug sprang up in Michigan and New Jersey.
	 Quantum talks to patients who have lived the nightmare of fighting
resistant infections in Australia -- a man whose leg had to be amputated
to try and stop a resistant golden staph infection; a woman who was
infected with VRE and treated as a pariah by other hospitals, who would
not take her.
	 We look at the link between the use of antibiotics in animals and the
rise of resistance in humans. Two thirds of antibiotics in Australia are
used on livestock -- not to treat sick animals, but as growth promoters.
Researchers now conclude that their widespread use in creating a
reservoir of resistant bugs that then attack humans. 
	 The data convinced the European Union to ban come antibiotics as
growth promoters, and now the World Health Organisation has come out
against them.
	 But Australian authorities deny there is a link. Microbiologists tell
Quantum that the evidence is clear, the practice is madness, and a ban
is needed.
	 We talk to doctors who feel pressurized by patients to prescribe
antibiotics, to nurses who deal with the rising number of infections
day-to-day. Quantum will for the first time reveal the extent of the
problem in Australia: how the number of infections is running at tens of
thousands per year.
	 It is a silent public health emergency. It may well be that, only 54
years after penicillin arrived to save us from scourges like
tuberculosis and pneumonia, that we are now entering a world where we
will have to do without antibiotics.

c 1998 Australian Broadcasting Corporation

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