With Few New Drugs To Treat Antibiotic Resistance, How Best To Deploy Them?

Infection specialists debate whether it's better to aim all their strongest antibiotics at once at multi-resistant germs, or save the most innovative drugs for use only as a last result.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria — rod-shaped bacteria in this tinted, scanning electron microscope image — are found in soil, water and as normal flora in the human intestine. But they can cause serious wound, lung, skin and urinary tract infections, and many pseudomonas strains are drug-resistant. Source: Science Photo Library

Five years ago, Mary Millard went to the hospital for heart surgery. A contaminated medical instrument gave her an infection that led to septic shock. Her heart struggled and her lungs and kidneys started to fail.

"What I caught was pseudomonas, and it's a very virulent superbug," says the 60-year-old former nurse who lives in Baton Rouge, La. This bacterium no longer responds to most antibiotics, and "it lives in you permanently, so I'm on lifetime antibiotics," she says.

Her doctor prescribed one of the most powerful antibiotics available, and there is no clear backup for her if that stops working. "It's kind of a wait-and-see. And that's what's scary."

Millard is just one of about 2 million Americans who have been infected with

Stai leggendo un'anteprima, registrati per continuare a leggere.

Altro da NPR

NPR3 min lettiWorld
50 Years Later, The Legacy Of U.S.-China 'Pingpong Diplomacy' Faces Challenges
April 10 marks the 50th anniversary of when U.S. table tennis players first visited China in a diplomatic breakthrough. But today, the political winds have shifted — in both countries.
NPR2 min lettiPolitics
Supreme Court Rules For Worshippers And Against California COVID Restrictions
The court's unsigned order came on a 5-to-4 vote, preventing the state from enforcing a rule that limits at-home gatherings to no more than three households.
NPR3 min letti
In 'Beeswing,' Richard Thompson Revisits A Big Life Just Shy Of The Mainstream
Richard Thompson, a British musician who somehow avoided pop stardom throughout his career, has just written about his early days in a new memoir called Beeswing: Losing My Way and Finding My Voice.