April 30, 2014 | 10
Widespread antibiotic resistance is no longer a potential problem but has become a major threat, according to the World Health Organization. This news comes as no surprise to the Scientific American community, thanks to Maryn McKenna‘s prescient feature article “The Enemy Within,” which ran three years ago in the April 2011 issue.
Naturally, you’ll think I’m biased because I work here–and I have had the pleasure of editing Maryn on numerous occasions–but hers is the kind of smart “ahead of the headlines” reporting and analysis that our readers can expect for just $40 a year (which gives you access to Maryn’s feature plus everything else going four years back).
For example, McKenna, who also blogs at Superbug and is one of MIT’s Research Fellows in Science Journalism this year, explained something in her 2011 article that not a lot of people realize even today: a large part of what makes antibiotic resistance so scary right now is that it is rapidly escalating among Gram-negative bacteria, such as Klebsiella, which for a variety of reasons are tougher to defeat than Gram-positive bacteria, such as Staphylococci.
Did I mention she also alerted readers in 2012 to growing number of cases of drug-resistant gonorrhea (another Gram-negative bug)? Read more in our In-depth Report on “The Crisis in Antibiotic Resistance.”
I also happen to know (because I edited the story) that the upcoming June issue of Scientific American has a feature article that describes how networking a few hundred universal pathogen detectors (technology that will become commercially available in the next couple of years) could help counter the problem by letting doctors know when and which antibiotics to prescribe and when they won’t work because, for example, a viral infection is amking the patient sick.
So stick with Scientific American, as we all learn how to live in a bleaker new age without antibiotics. If they are any potential solutions on the horizon, we’ll be the first to let you know.