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Super-Selected Flesh-Eating Bacteria ?

Steve Franklin franklin at ug.cs.dal.ca
Tue Dec 6 17:42:51 EST 1994

Quick question for you,

   In light of Bouchard's problem with the streptococcal bacteria, I was
wondering about the following theory I've had:

If someone has strep throat, they take antibiotics to fight it. Now, in most
cases people take the antibiotics through to the end, and kill off the
problem. But, some don't finish the drugs, because they think their symptoms
are gone. Then, when the disease hits them again, they're surprised and go
back to the doctor for another dose. However, they have implemented
Darwinian selection nicely, because the more resilient bacteria have made it
through the first "wave" of biological warfare that antibiotics waged. 

This is a reasonably well known concern - antibiotics breeding stronger
disease and bacteria. However, even if the people do take the antibiotics
through to completion, the stronger bacteria will live in the host the
longest, making them more likely to be communicated to other individuals...

Now suppose that a strain of bacteria starts in an individual, and undergoes
the selection process of scenario one repeatedly, continually being knocked
down, then climbing back up... It seems quite reasonable to conceive that
this strain will become quite resilient to antiobiotics, and being such a
selective population of bacteria, may not resemble the original bacteria
from which it was spawned. If you take a large number of people, and remove
all people over 6'4, chances are that you will have a group of people that
are better at basketball than the 'average' person, statistically. Is this
possible with the streptococcal bacteria as well? 

Perhaps this usually 'peaceful' bacteria can undergo such hyper-accelerated
selection that it becomes incredibly strong and resistant to anti-biotics,
and at the same time, it's nature changes due to its very specific selection

The question then would be - how come this super-strain doesn't spread all
over and nuke us all in a giant plague? Well, it would seem possible to me
that as the nature of the bacteria changes, so too would it's means of
transmission. If the bacteria prefers to get into your bloodstream and
tissue, rather than into your throat and lungs, then transmission of the
bacteria becomes more difficult - they lose their airborne advantage, and
require transmission via open wounds. 

Is there any possible truth to any of this, or is it all garbage? I'm
completely ignorant in this field, so forgive me for having fun with
something I know nothing about. Please CC email to me with any thoughts or
criticisms you might have.

  Steve Franklin

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