Do Antibitotics actually help?

It’s common nowadays that whenever someone feels their throat getting scratchy, a runny nose, or cough. They call up the doctor to schedule a visit, hoping to get some antibiotics before it gets worse. However, more and more frequently, signs are being posted in immediate care centers, doctor’s office, etc. that not everything requires to be prescribed antibiotics.

They say that our bodies need to be able to fight off bacteria and such without help from drugs.

But more recently, researchers are worried about the development and spread of ‘superbugs’. These are forms of bacteria that do not respond to antibiotics which are reportedly responsible for thousands of deaths each year in Europe and the United States. For the first time, scientists have found potent superbugs in the remote High Arctic of Norway, which they fear does not bode well for the future of antibiotic treatments.

A team led by Prof. Jennifer Roberts from University of Kansas was to study the thawing permafrost in the remote of High Arctic Norway in order to understand how to methane gas that this melting ice releases may relate to climate change on a global level.

However, when the researchers were analyzing soil samples from the Kongsfjorden region of Svalbard in Norway, where they were based, they found something that surprised and alarmed them: a host of superbugs that, by all accounts, should not have been living there.

"The study offered a good opportunity to test soil samples for antibiotic genes with the hypothesis that Svalbard was such a remote and isolated place, we wouldn't find any evidence of such genes," says Prof. Roberts.

The researcher also mentions two other pathways through which the resistant strains may have traveled. The first is through "colonies of nesting birds" that were present in areas where the scientists observed "the highest concentrations of these genes." The second is through the movements of small animals, such as foxes, that may pick up the bugs from watering holes that they share with birds.

Once they die, the bacteria release their genetic material into the environment, which means that other bacteria can then pick up the antibiotic-resistant genes.

The research team warns that the discovery of multidrug antibiotic resistance in the remote Arctic means that the superbug phenomenon has truly become global and may pose a very serious and immediate threat.