The Next Superbug

Last Updated on June 2, 2020 by

In recent years our planet has seen a number of close calls with diseases that could have potentially seen a great number of casualties.  But while media outlets give a lot of attention to these very specific outbreaks of disease, there are many epidemics that receive very little attention.  But the reality of the most devastating diseases throughout history contends that these diseases will likely appear just as mysteriously as they ever did.  But where are some places it could it start?

In 2002 the SARS virus first appeared in China when a farmer contracted it and subsequently died.  It went unchecked for three months before authorities caught on and reported that a new disease was making the rounds.  Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome was contained due to intervention of world governments and soon the world relaxed.  Shortly after this Avian Influenza appeared and gave people a scare as birds began dropping from the sky.  One thing rarely mentioned was that the disease could only be contracted from direct contact with birds.  Then came the Swine Flu H1N1 which was transmissible between humans, but was largely survivable with a fatality rate of around one out of every one thousand.  These diseases were all viral in nature.  Some of the most damaging diseases in history, including the bubonic plague which claimed some 200 million lives were bacterial diseases and not the product of viruses.  Is it only a matter of time before these types of diseases make a comeback?

With the creation of antibiotics, many bacterial diseases were easy enough to fight off.  Penicillin, discovered first in 1928 by Alexander Fleming would allow humans a chance at eradicating many diseases that had previously crippled entire civilizations and claimed millions of lives.  But as it became used more and more, the diseases got stronger through natural selection.  The weaker strains were killed off and only those able to survive contact with weaker antibiotics were able to survive.  As a result stronger antibiotics were constantly being created.  And yet the diseases were not only interacting inside the body with the ill, but also mingling in the waters as the flushed antibiotics entered the streams.  The bacteria survived and entered plants which were surviving in Lakes and rivers will eventually find itself in the stomachs of sharks, according to National Geographic which if they are eaten can mean the bacteria  has license to enter our bodies as we are the top of the food chain.

Is it possible the next big disease could happen as a result of these increasingly resistant diseases ultimately finding their way into our population by the very virtue of eating the most dangerous creature in the sea?  The horrifying scenario pits man against his own ingenuity, attempting to find away to shield the antibiotic resistant bacteria from evolving fast enough to wipe him out.  And after the quelling of SARS and the Plague, surely humankind could resist this as well, but only with the same level of perseverance.  And tragically there would be a period before a new antibiotic was made where the bacteria would be able to wreak havoc.