In the not-so-distant future, our most urgent wars may not be fought against each other but against superbugs. It’s a fact that serious bacterial infections that are resistant to antibiotics are on the rise, and, not to cause panic, but a recent review indicated that by 2050, they could be killing 1 person every 3 seconds around the globe.
Scary stuff. What do. Well, if you’re a researcher from down under, you turn to marsupials for the answer.
How so? Recently, researchers in Australia have found that milk from Tasmanian devils contains ingredients that are great at killing infections that are difficult to treat.
The milk contains peptides that do the work. Tasmanian Devils aren’t the only animals to have these ingredients in their milk, and other marsupials like Tamar wallabies and koalas have also been found to have some of them, too.
Why do these animals harbor such magic? Researchers think we have dirty environments to thank.
It’s like this: marsupials give birth to their young early on. They then must carry their babies around in their pouches until the offspring is old enough to fend for themselves.
Tasmanian devils exist successfully in environments that are relatively dirty, and so, in order to have babies that can keep up, they’ve developed a strong immune system, something that’s coming out in their milk is.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the U.S at least 2 million people become infected with bacteria that drugs can’t treat, each year.
Of those, at least 23,000 if not more, die as a result of these infections.
Thankfully, in addition to turning to marsupials to save the day, other insights are also being made into how to fight superbugs, on a semi-regular basis.
In fact, antibacterial secretions made by maggots are said to be quite powerful. The bugs live on decaying flesh-gross- but actually have the ability to clean out infected wounds.
As they do their cleaning work, maggots leave a layer of secretion in the wound. And this is the key. This substance has been found to have strong bacteria-fighting powers, so incredible that it’s actually been trademarked.
Researchers hope that it can be used in the development of new, novel medicines in the future.
But it’s true that their development is still a ways off. How can you protect yourself in the meantime?
PBS.org has some tips. Wash your hands well with soap, and do it frequently throughout the day. And don’t ‘sort of’ wash them- scrub in those corners and really get them clean.
Follow this guide if you want some tips on getting it done.
Also, limit your use of antibacterial soap and go for the ‘regular’ stuff.
Ask or remind your doctors to wash their hands before dealing with you, to help prevent the spread of infections. Get the flu shot for extra protection and, finally, take antibiotics minimally- i.e, only when you really have to.