Super-Selected Flesh-Eating Bacteria ?

Wed Dec 7 11:30:15 EST 1994

The simple truth is usually but not always the antibiotic resisitent 
bacteria are not as good as the snensitive bacteria in the absence of 

On Tue, 6 Dec 1994, Steve Franklin wrote:

> Quick question for you,
>    In light of Bouchard's problem with the streptococcal bacteria, I was
> wondering about the following theory I've had:
> If someone has strep throat, they take antibiotics to fight it. Now, in most
> cases people take the antibiotics through to the end, and kill off the
> problem. But, some don't finish the drugs, because they think their symptoms
> are gone. Then, when the disease hits them again, they're surprised and go
> back to the doctor for another dose. However, they have implemented
> Darwinian selection nicely, because the more resilient bacteria have made it
> through the first "wave" of biological warfare that antibiotics waged. 
> This is a reasonably well known concern - antibiotics breeding stronger
> disease and bacteria. However, even if the people do take the antibiotics
> through to completion, the stronger bacteria will live in the host the
> longest, making them more likely to be communicated to other individuals...
> Now suppose that a strain of bacteria starts in an individual, and undergoes
> the selection process of scenario one repeatedly, continually being knocked
> down, then climbing back up... It seems quite reasonable to conceive that
> this strain will become quite resilient to antiobiotics, and being such a
> selective population of bacteria, may not resemble the original bacteria
> from which it was spawned. If you take a large number of people, and remove
> all people over 6'4, chances are that you will have a group of people that
> are better at basketball than the 'average' person, statistically. Is this
> possible with the streptococcal bacteria as well? 
> Perhaps this usually 'peaceful' bacteria can undergo such hyper-accelerated
> selection that it becomes incredibly strong and resistant to anti-biotics,
> and at the same time, it's nature changes due to its very specific selection
> criteria? 
> The question then would be - how come this super-strain doesn't spread all
> over and nuke us all in a giant plague? Well, it would seem possible to me
> that as the nature of the bacteria changes, so too would it's means of
> transmission. If the bacteria prefers to get into your bloodstream and
> tissue, rather than into your throat and lungs, then transmission of the
> bacteria becomes more difficult - they lose their airborne advantage, and
> require transmission via open wounds. 
> Is there any possible truth to any of this, or is it all garbage? I'm
> completely ignorant in this field, so forgive me for having fun with
> something I know nothing about. Please CC email to me with any thoughts or
> criticisms you might have.
>   Steve Franklin

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