Superbugs, human ecology and the threat from within | this curious life |
At the beginning of the 20th century, around one in three children in countries such as Australia and the United States died of infection before the age of five.


'But since Howard Florey first described the power of penicillin in 1947 and antibiotics became widely available, we have come to expect that life-threatening bacterial infection can be easily managed.


Early antibiotic therapy still means the difference between life and death for a previously healthy young person with a severe blood infection.


However, we have long known that bacteria can quickly adapt to overcome the antibiotics that used to kill them. These antibiotic-resistant bacteria are often referred to as “superbugs”.


We need to think of the human (and animal) gut microflora as an inter-connected global ecosystem, and ask ourselves if we are managing it well. If we remain heedless of this risk, we may pass a tipping point beyond which this vital ecosystem, the gut microflora, cannot recover.'