In The Moon Stealer books the threat to the human race comes in the form of a foreign bacteria – but how much of a genuine threat is bacteria to human health?
Bacteria are one of the most prevalent species on the planet, and scientists believe that there are about a trillion species. Fortunately, most of these are not harmful to humans as each of us has more bacteria on our body than there are people on Earth. Bacteria are able to survive in the most extreme of conditions, and adapt to overcome changes in their environment. Whenever we are affected by bacteria, antibiotics can normally be used to kill the strain and help us recover. As a result of their resilience, many strains of bacteria have adapted o become resistant to antibiotics and now pose a serious risk to human health.
- Staphylococcus aureus
This ‘superbug’ was first documented in 1884 and is easily transferred through human contact. The strain causes a range of diseases from skin disorders to deadly infections like pneumonia and meningitis. This bacteria is most often treated with some form of penicillin, but by the 1960s more than 80% of the bacteria became antibiotic resistant and this number continues to grow.
- Escherichia Coli (E. Coli)
Most E. Coli bacteria are harmless, and live unaffected in our digestive system. When these ‘helpful’ bacteria enter the bloodstream, however, there may be adverse effects. Other strains of E. Coli can lead to severe food poisoning, urinary tract infections and meningitis. The species is highly resistant to antibiotics.
- Mycobacterium Tuberculosis
There is evidence that suggests this bacteria has been causing serious disease in humans from as far back as 9000 years ago. Tuberculosis has also been called the White Plague or scrofula. It is believed that Queen Nefertiti, and her Pharaoh husband Ahenaten, died from tuberculosis around 1330 BC. Incidents where the bacteria has caused infections, have decreased significantly in the past century. There has, however, been a recent rise in the number of infections as a result of the bacteria’s increased resistance to antibiotics.
- Neisseria Gonorrhoeae
This bacteria is spread through sexual contact and cause infections in both males and females. Various strains of the bacteria have adapted to become resistant to antibiotics, and doctors have had to change the way in which they treat gonorrhoea. There are small hairs, called pili, on the bacteria that that act like hooks. They use these to attach themselves to healthy cells.
- Klebsiella pneumoniae
Mainly responsible for pneumonia and lung infections, this bacteria has proven to be resilient to a range of antibiotics. The ‘opportunistic’ microbe infects mostly middle-aged, and older men, with previously weakened immune systems.
- Pseudomonas aeruginosa
Those with weakened immune systems are also more likely to be infected by this bacteria. It can cause serious complications in patients with cancer, cystic fibrosis and AIDS. The level of threat this bacteria poses to humans is currently increasing, and the bacteria mutates quickly to become resistant to antibiotics that are being used in its treatment.