Quantum: Passing The Bug

The Age | 19 March 1998



By Fiona Scott-Norman


TONIGHT: ABC, 8pm


Quantum returns for 1998 with a sobering report on the decreasing effectiveness of antibiotics, and a look at some infections which can make a visit to the hospital either a death warrant or the opportunity to be chronically, quarantineably, untreatably, ill.


"Passing The Bug" is a documentary that makes you think you'd be better off at home with a first aid kit and a few leeches rather than in the bacteria infested wards of our hospitals.


The basic issue confronted in "Passing The Bug" is that, fifty years after penicillin saved us from everything from syphilis to tuberculosis, antibiotics are losing their efficacy to the point where we may be back at the beginning; infections ravaging our bodies and no way of treating them. Several resistant "superbugs" have evolved, one of which is apparently rampant throughout hospitals in the eastern states. It is untreatable, and patients who enter hospitals for other problems are becoming infected.


There are others; VRSA and VRE. According to Quantum reporter Wilson da Silva, if you have VRE and you're in intensive care, you have a 60 per cent chance of dying. As usual the human race has contributed to its own downfall, by using antibiotics like lollies so that bacteria-resistance has grown up we have encouraged transmittable bacterial mutations.


This episode of Quantum may not be a very upbeat start to the year, but it's packed with vital information.


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