Organic Consumers Association

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Antibiotic Resistant Pathogens: When the Drugs Don't Work

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Health Issues page, and our Appetite for a Change page.

David Livermore is in a race against evolution. In his north London lab, he holds up an evil-smelling culture plate smeared with bacteria. This creamy-yellow growth is the enemy: a new strain of germs resistant to the most powerful antibiotics yet devised by humankind.

Out on the streets, Steve Owen is running the same race -- physically pounding the pavements to draw attention to the problem of drug-resistant infections.

Owen's father Donald died four years ago of multiple organ failure in a British hospital. He had checked in for a knee operation. But what he got was methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, commonly known as MRSA, a so-called "superbug" that all the drugs his doctors prescribed couldn't beat. After almost 18 months of severe pain, the infection got into his blood, overpowered his vital organs and killed him.

Owen and his wife Jules have pledged to run 12 big races in as many months, to raise funds for a charity that is working to fight MRSA. "It just shouldn't have happened," says Jules, as the pair nurse their own aching limbs after running a half-marathon. "It was his knee -- that's not something he should have died from."

Welcome to a world where the drugs don't work.

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