Men's Health Australia

THE FATALLY SLOW QUEST FOR NEXT-GEN ANTIBIOTICS

IN JANUARY 2019, Mike Dudley got a call that his 69-year-old brother-in-law had died a mere 48 hours after checking into hospital with flu-like symptoms. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Just five months earlier, they’d been backpacking together in California’s Ansel Adams Wilderness and Yosemite National Park. The news didn’t make any sense.

Then Dudley learned the detail that made his heart sink: the cause was bacterial sepsis – a condition resulting from the body’s response to the chemicals it produces when fighting an infection – after a staph infection had invaded his body.

Although Dudley, an infectious-disease specialist, knew all about out-of-control infections that could kill otherwise healthy patients, his brother-in-law’s death was a stark reminder that they can turn so deadly so fast, overwhelming the antibiotics we have to try to stop them.

Like so many experts in his field, Dudley has been living with a quiet anxiety about what could happen if the drugs we depend on to treat everything from pneumonia to gonorrhea to urinary-tract infections someday stopped

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