Infections and diseases

By | February 12, 2021

Bacteria and viruses evolve faster than we do.

Most people speak of disease as referring to infection. In their minds, the scheme is surprisingly simple: microbes enter the body and multiply, causing illness, and doctors prescribe antibiotics that kill these microbes. The reality is much more complicated, interesting and darker.

One human generation is approximately twenty-five years. In bacteria, generations change every few hours, that is, about 30,000 times faster. Knowing this, one is simply amazed that such a large and slowly developing organism, like a human, in principle, managed to survive. Micro-life existed on Earth for three billion years before something larger arose and began to evolve. Who knows, maybe we will still discover the planets on which large organisms did not evolve, since they were swallowed up by smaller ones that evolved much faster.

We now face the dangers of antibiotic resistance. The few bacteria that have survived the antibiotic exposure soon swell and dominate. The most common evolutionary process, but medical journals, which is remarkable, rarely use this word in E, trying to replace it with euphemisms like “arise”, “appear”, “spread”. And these omissions are not a trifle.

Future evolutionary medics have tried, sometimes with the best of intentions, to prevent the development of antibiotic resistance in their hospitals, agreeing to prioritize prescriptions for one antibiotic and switch to a new “favorite” every few months. But the sequential effects of different drugs, however intuitively logical and effective it may seem, can accelerate the evolutionary development of multidrug resistance. In addition, many doctors advise patients to drink the entire course of antibiotics to the end in order to prevent the development of resistance, however, according to the results of recent studies, if pneumonia has already been stopped, then further antibiotic administration only enhances the selection of resistant strains, while not shortening the duration of the disease. … The lack of evolutionary knowledge among physicians is detrimental to the health of patients.

Bacteria and their carriers are leading an evolutionary arms race: as soon as the carrier develops a defense mechanism, the pathogen begins to evolve so as to escape from its influence. Streptococcus, the bacterium that causes sore throat, disguises itself as cells in the human body, so the antibodies our immune system secretes to fight strep can damage our own cells as well. This kidney damage results in glomerulonephritis. Damage to joints and heart valves – rheumatic fever. Damage to neurons in the basal nuclei (one of the brain regions) leads to motor disorders, convulsive movements, which are characteristic of rheumatic chorea, and some manifestations of obsessive-compulsive disorder.

It happens that the host and bacteria get along with each other for mutual benefit. The former idea of ​​bacteria as inevitably harmful to the body is gradually being replaced by an evolutionary view of them as a complex microflora that is vital to health.

The disturbance of microflora reverberates with our current epidemic of obesity and autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes and Crohn’s disease. There is something in the modern environment that provokes excessive inflammation, because of which all these diseases and atherosclerosis arise. Maybe it’s just antibiotics that destroy microflora? If so, the cost of getting rid of bacteria is too high.

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