The Black Death and Antibiotic Resistant Microbes

The Black Death was a disease that took the world by storm. The Plague swept through Asia, Europe, and the Middle East killing millions of people wherever it went. As time went on and medical treatments evolved it was learned that the plague was easily treated with antibiotics. The use of antibiotics helped reduce and treat the plague into what seemed to be an irradiation of a terrible disease of the mid 1300’s. This was grand until the microbes and diseases started to evolve themselves into new forms, these forms were resistant to modern day antibiotics. In an article I located inside the National Archives called Global Microbial Threats of the 1900s, facts on the presence and threat of these antibiotic resistant diseases, funguses, parasites, and viruses is shown. The article states that,

“In recent years, antimicrobial drug resistance has become a serious problem in the United States and abroad. Antimicrobial resistance occurs when a disease-carrying microbe (bacteria, virus, parasite, or fungus) is no longer affected by a drug that previously was able to kill the microbe or prevent it from growing.” (Global Microbial Threats of the 1900’s)

This is incredibly important because wight the uprise of these new, more dangerous forms of these microbes will become common again if doctors and scientist do not find a new way to stop these diseases. In an article written in January 2016 by ABC news named Plague Occurs in the U.S., but is Preventable states that about 1,000 to 3,000 people in the United States contract the plague each yea, but most cases are treated and not fatal. But this would not be the case if these microbes became resistant to antibiotics.

Another side of this problem hides an even more terrifying idea surrounding these antibiotic resistant microbes. The idea of microbial warfare. The CDC stated “Yersinia pestis used in an aerosol attack could cause cases of the pneumonic form of plague,”. This is an extreme problem because pneumonic plague is able to be speed from human to human directly, not through a rodent vector like Bubonic Plague. Quoted in the article by ABC news, Professor John D. Clements said  “…. unlike Bacillus anthraces (Anthrax), Yersinia do not make spores. Keeping the organism suspended at a high enough concentration, at the right particle size and viable is problematic.”. In the article Global Microbial Threats in the 1900s there is a graphic that details how diseases that seem to go dormant are birthed back into the world. The plague can either be inside of animals but is often brought back into populations through land use and economic developments.

This is a problem relating to international safety. The microbes that have built up a resistance are dangerous on their own because of the difficulty of treating them and keeping them at bay from creating another worldwide pandemic. Watching the news and reading magazines and other media it is obvious that around the world there is tension. As a human living in the 21st century we have read in history books and seen documentaries of terrible things that have happened during times of war. We can only hope that the world can hold on to peace and not use antibiotic resistant microbes as a form of weapon. If these antibiotic resistant diseases, parasites, fungi, bacteria are used as a form of microbial warfare who knows the possible outcome.

These microbes have are already creating a mass hysteria and accompanied with rising international tensions and possibilities of an internal or external war, the dangers of these microbes are still growing. Scientist and Doctors need to team up to find a way to combat these antibiotic resistant parasites as soon as possible to prevent a highly unlikely but still possible attack with microbial warfare or a possible re-birth of a global pandemic similar to the black death of the mid 1300s.

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