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Author: Zinj Two stars, 250 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 418  
Subject: Le Resistance Date: 11/5/1999 9:03 PM
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I'm a little concerned about the use of new and (currently) potent anti-viral technologies on non-leathal, non-permanent, quality-of-life illnesses like influenza (the very young, old, and immunologically impared excepted from this category, of course).

Humanity has already shown it is incapable of using antibiotics responsibly -- every Latin American country I've ever been to readily dispenses them for conditions they CANNOT treat (viral, fungal, protist infections, etc). Misuse, inconsistent or prematurely terminated use when prescribed, and use for illnesses they cannot help has given old baddies like strep or even terrors like TB a new lease on life by providing millions of walking laboratories in which to evolve resistance. This is documented.

To my knowledge, there is no longer ANY antibiotic to which at least one type of bacteria has not developed resistance...all our tools are being compromised, and many bacteria are developing evolving strains resistant to multiple antibiotics -- sometimes by exchanging resistance genes among one another (bacteria are cool that way) Most posters to this board don't remember the pre-antibiotic period, or how TB used to kill millions. A return to that era may be closer than we know as our antibiotic weapons continue to decline in efficacy.

Do we really want to risk our new anti-viral tools on something like flu? You can bet your life people wont stick to the regimen and take the WHOLE bottle, on the CORRECT schedule, especially as they begin to feel better -- it's too easy to forget, and the immediate consequences are minimal.

AIDS patients are probably more disciplined, because if they screw up, they die. If someone stop taking his flu medication too soon, he may get nothing more than a small relapse of a bug which by that point his body is already on the verge of completely defeating.

So what's the problem? What about a flu-sufferer who also has HIV (but doesn't yet know it)? Take the flu antivirals for a while, maybe even following the doctor's instructions exactly and finishing the bottle. The flu episode comes to an end but the HIV that hasn't been eliminated may just have been given chance to evolve resistance. This situation, repeated in millions of people WILL eventually create resistant strains of other viruses to the new antivirals, even if the ostensible purpose of "shortening" the period of flu symptoms is well served. This is the fallout of using an important lifesaving technology for covenience purposes like shortening a flu illness.

No, not all anti-virals will be effective against all viruses, so in some cases this unintended fallout effect may not happen. However, to the degree it does happen, that our treatment of one illness allows another to become resistant to a future treatment regimen by the same or even other drugs, we are prescribing our own demise.

zinj
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