DAILY DOSE: Antibiotic resistance in animals pre-dates man-made drugs; Angry anti-vaxxers storm European capitol.

Another day, another story about angry anti-vaxxers resorting to violence and scare tactics to get their point across. The latest incident took place in the Bulgarian capitol, Sofia. Per Reuters, “Anti-vaccine protesters tried to storm the Bulgarian parliament on Wednesday and briefly scuffled with police officers during a massive rally against coronavirus restrictions in downtown Sofia. Tensions rose an hour after about 3,000 people gathered in front of the parliament building, demanding the lifting of a mandatory health pass which they said trampled on their rights and was a back-door means of forcing people to get vaccinated.” George Harrison wrote a song that captures the sentiment driving the wave of anti-science freedom fighters. It is called “I, Me, Mine.” https://reut.rs/3qoaSeB


While the current Omicron wave may feature less than severe symptoms for the majority of people who become infected, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t doing damage. Look no further than the disturbing spike in pediatric hospital admissions. It’s hard to see much of the trend as an own goal since vaccines are readily available to anyone over 5 years old. Per the Associated Press, “Suspicion, misinformation, complacency and delays because of the holidays and bad weather have combined to produce alarmingly low COVID-19 vaccination rates in U.S. children ages 5 to 11, authorities say. As of Tuesday, just over 17% were fully vaccinated, more than two months after shots for the age group became available. While Vermont is at 48%, California is just shy of 19% and Mississippi is only at 5%. Vaccinations among the elementary school set surged after the shots were introduced in the fall, but the numbers have crept up slowly since then, and omicron’s explosive spread appears to have had little effect.” https://bit.ly/34DvS8A


Antibiotic resistance is a serious problem. While scientists have established that the phenomenon is ancient among soil bacteria, the existence of resistance in animals was more of a question mark. A recent study establishes of methicillin-resistant Staph A in groundhogs long before the existence of human made antibiotics. According to the study’s authors, “Here we show that particular lineages of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus—a notorious human pathogen—appeared in European hedgehogs in the pre-antibiotic era. Subsequently, these lineages spread within the local hedgehog populations and between hedgehogs and secondary hosts, including livestock and humans. We also demonstrate that the hedgehog dermatophyte Trichophyton erinacei produces two β-lactam antibiotics that provide a natural selective environment in which methicillin-resistant S. aureus isolates have an advantage over susceptible isolates. Together, these results suggest that methicillin resistance emerged in the pre-antibiotic era as a co-evolutionary adaptation of S. aureus to the colonization of dermatophyte-infected hedgehogs.” The study was published in the journal, Nature. https://go.nature.com/34NjyTs


An international study of China’s coasts indicates that the country is actively working to protect the quality of its waters, even in the face of increased farm fishing. According to Hakai Magazine, “In the end, the team found that China has 326 protected areas covering almost 13 percent of its territorial waters—and they are still not entirely sure they found all of them. That exceeds the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity’s target of protecting 10 percent of coastal and marine areas by 2020. Many countries have now expanded that target to 30 percent by 2030, though China has not made that commitment.” https://bit.ly/3Fp3XG4

Thanks for reading. Let’s be careful out there.


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