Monday, February 20, 2012

Alcohol Resistant Viruses Protection From Epidemic

Read this, because it could save your life and the lives of your loved ones much sooner than any of us would like. 

I received an alarming email that viruses have evolved immunity to alcohol, including hand sanitizers. It means we just lost one of our better tools to keep from getting diseases and spreading them. The alcohol resistance clearly rates a new and improved post on epidemics. 

Yesterday's post was a chart of epidemics from the Center for Disease Control that listed epidemics since 2000. 

I did not go into detail about how bacteria and viruses manage to become immune to whatever we are doing to kill them and protect ourselves. Educated and savvy people do not usually know what they need to about how bacteria and viruses work. You need to know enough to stay alive.

Living things with a shorter life span and that reproduce rapidly in large numbers have a big survival advantage over other living things that live a long time, reproduce slowly and in smaller numbers. Viruses and bacteria have humans beat in all those departments. There is a kind of bacteria that lives for about 20 minutes. This is its "life cycle", if you could apply the term to it. 

There are other bacteria that live much longer, but we can compare human reproduction to bacteria replication. Bacteria divide in two when they make more bacteria. If we assumed that those bacteria split in two every minute, we would have almost 43 million bacteria in less than ten minutes. During that time two humans might start a life or maybe even octuplets, but that wouldn't result in any human babies for nine more months. 

If only the strongest bacteria of those 43 million bacteria survived, we could have body builder type bacteria kicking sand in the face of that one human baby in no time. And that is what we get. They have to keep making new flu vaccinations because the flu bugs keep getting resistant to the old flu vaccinations.

Hah! And you think that's bad? Bacteria do something that is even worse news for us humans. They do something called packet swapping. It is a way that bacteria and even viruses can pass along helpful genetic material, like antibiotic resistance to other bacteria. They don't even have to pass the genetic material to the same kind of bacteria. 

Now we know what the problem is. We are going to get epidemics. The germs that make us sick evolve faster than we can make new ways to deal with them.

I can see at least one post in our future about what to do about preparing for epidemics.

I had some hand sanitizer in my go bag as a substitute for soap and water. Bad idea! I will now carry a little extra water and soap.

No comments:

Post a Comment