Posts Tagged ‘ABC’

Rise of the Superbugs

By Geoff Thompson and Mary Ann Jolley

Antibiotics are the wonder drugs of modern medicine. They’ve allowed doctors to save and extend life by killing infection and enabling ground breaking surgery. But imagine a world where antibiotics don’t work – that would be a place dominated by superbugs, bacteria that don’t respond to antibiotics. Scientists say this would end many modern medical procedures and they claim the threat is greater than we realise.

Four Corners reporter Geoff Thompson looks at the rise of superbugs, visiting the hot spots around the world where the misuse of antibiotics is creating a breeding ground for these bacteria and he tells the horrific stories of those who’ve contracted infections that can’t be controlled. He also reveals that Australian health officials are making decisions that could open the way for a deadly superbug to infect Australians living in the far north of the country.

“…Every time we take an antibiotic we’re giving the bug a chance to become a superbug … the more of us that take antibiotics inappropriately, the greater the chance in the community a superbug will come.”

And that’s exactly what’s happening in India, where antibiotics are not restricted in their use. As a result a new superbug, New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase or NDM-1, has evolved. Not only is it deadly in its own right, it’s also capable of genetically modifying other bacteria to make them superbugs.

Superbugs like this have infected people who’ve been injured in accidents while travelling overseas. In other cases, apparently healthy people return from abroad only to discover that a simple medical procedure effectively unleashes the bug. In one instance, a healthy middle-aged man went for a prostate biopsy. The procedure was done successfully but one day later he became desperately ill. A superbug, possibly contracted while travelling overseas, had moved from his bowel into his bloodstream making him critically ill.

In the Western Province of Papua New Guinea, close to the Australian border, the misuse of antibiotics has contributed to the rise of a superbug form of Tuberculosis. For seven years the Queensland and Federal Governments funded TB clinics for PNG nationals in the Torres Strait. These clinics were the last line of defence that could stop the superbug coming to the Australian mainland. But the closure of these clinics in June this year has left the job of treating TB patients with the PNG Government , funded by AusAID. This could increase the risk of superbug TB coming to Australia.

Watch Rise of the Superbugs HERE

“Rise of the Superbugs”, reported by Geoff Thompson and presented by Kerry O’Brien, aired on Monday 29th October on ABC 1 at 8.30 pm.

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A New Zealand public relations guru is said to have paid for Japanese spy planes which have been keeping an eye on anti-whaling protesters in the Southern Ocean.

Reports say Glenn Inwood’s Omeka Public Relations company, which works for Japan’s Institute of Cetacean Research, chartered planes in Hobart and Albany to track the Sea Shepherd’s ship, the Steve Irwin, in December.

Sea Shepherd founder and Steve Irwin captain Paul Watson claims Mr Inwood put the “spy flights” on his credit card.

“The Japanese are spending an incredible amount of money this year. They’ve dedicated two vessels just to tail us and the latest flights out of Melbourne and Hobart cost them about $20,000,” he told the ABC.

“These surveillance flights are aiding an illegal operation and they should be stopped,” Mr Watson said.

“Japanese whaling is illegal – it’s a poaching operation.

“The Australian Government recognises it as illegal. They are taking whales in the Australian-Antarctic territory and they are in contempt of an Australian Federal Court order.”

The ABC attempted to contact Mr Inwood without success.

Read the full report here via PR guru ‘paid for whalers’ spy flights’ – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).