In response to Nicholas Kristof’s March 6, 2010 story, “The Spread of Superbugs”-
By Dennis Calvert – President and CEO of BioLargo, Inc.
The problems are much bigger than most people think. In my journey through life and business, I often ask people if they have ever had personal experience with MRSA. My current tally shows that about two-thirds of the people have personally had an experience or they know someone who has battled this superbug.
My miracle daughter, Kelsey, who is a healthy and beautiful 17-year old, underwent 10+ major heart surgeries before she was one year old, and almost died from the nasty superbug she caught while in the hospital, which tacked an additional $150,000 on the bill.
My business partner and Chief Technology Officer at BioLargo, Inc., Kenneth Code, recognized the threat of superbugs more than 15 years ago when his father had a stroke and was confined to a wheelchair and hospital bed. Ken set out on a mission to not only to help protect his dad, but also come up with strategies to prevent superbugs from being spread to people throughout the world, which eventually spawned a number of patents and the technical foundation of our business, which is now finding its way into commercial markets.
We met, he shared his passion for the mission, I “got it” and off we went on a mission to make a difference in the world.
While pursuing our mission to help keep people safe from disease and infection, we have learned a few principles that we believe are critical to help tackle MRSA and similar issues. We believe it is only a matter of time before industry members and government regulators figure it out.
Don’t mess with Mother Nature
Microbes reproduce in nano-seconds and have been doing so since the millennia. They have and will continue to adapt to environmental threats in order to survive. It is what they do. The balance between good bugs and bad bugs is inevitable and natural. The more we “mess” with Mother Mature, the more virulent her response. And the more reliant we become on antibiotics, the more often we witness the emergence of mutant bugs like MRSA -- nature’s response to imbalance.
No Strategy – No Disinfection
There is no single answer to the problems we face. A comprehensive offensive and defensive strategy is required. The enemies -- dangerous microbes -- are clever and relentless. Any notion that we can “take a pill” is like burying your head in the sand. It’s only a matter of time before the mutuant bugs will respond to an organic attack. Hint: an inorganic attack is required.
Nature shows us the way
We know that free iodine is an essential nutrient that is naturally occurring and naturally processed. It is nature’s best disinfectant. It is the most potent disinfectant. Free iodine is stocked in the ocean and is rained onto the earth through the rain cycle. It has no known acquired resistance capabilities. We feature it for a reason: we were determined to figure out how to get it and deliver it in safe controlled doses.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure
When our business first started, I remember learning about the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) Universal Precautions for dealing with infectious materials: Containment, Isolation, Neutralization, and Disposal.
Translation: When you encounter infectious material, you need to get it all in one place, keep it away from living things, kill it, and get rid of it. Simple right? For an individual working in the health field, it is a straight-forward approach.
However, when it comes to designing systems and industry-wide solutions, it took me nearly half a decade to fully comprehend what these concepts mean to industry. What if you could create an environment in which disease just can’t thrive? How about a greenhouse, a farm or an animal stall? What about a bandage or even a hospital room? What about treating a carrier of MRSA so that people could not get infected in the first place? Prevention -- stopping the bug before it gets to the people -- is the best solution.
The boy who cried wolf died
We often hear that the risk of contracting MRSA is low, and if we do catch it, it likely won’t kill you, and we should not overreact. Agreed. There is no argument here. The body’s natural defenses are incredibly efficient, especially if you are healthy. But when you’re not healthy, or if the system keeps throwing the balance out of whack, watch out.
We track CDC’s worldwide reports on pandemic diseases like ebola and swine flu, as well as salmonella and ecoli that affect healthy people too. How MRSA evolved, how it’s transmitted, incubated and mutating are vivid examples of how the system has dramatically missed the mark.
We should be careful to distinguish between systemic industry strategies vs. individual behaviors and fears. Basic consumer strategies like washing hands, cooking food properly, or relying on a great antibiotic drug where appropriately prescribed, are sound strategies for preventing or fighting infection.
We know, however, that the problems are industry and systemic related. I am reminded of a famous quote: “Kill them all and let God sort them out.” That kind of thinking is often how the industry tackles dangerous microbes. Instead, we know you have to find a normalization or equilibrium balance between good and bad microbes.
Often, the weapons chosen are so powerful that they force microbial resistance and throw the natural balance out of order. And eventually, we pay the price.
If you are not the leader of the pack, the view never changes
The price to pay for being an innovator and front-runner is costly. Industry is often paralyzed by its hesitancy to take risk. The fear of change and events beyond its control -- like global economic crisis -- is just plain “stinking thinking.”
As my dad often told me while I was growing up: “When you know that you know that you know and your cause is driven by a purpose greater than yourself, it is only a matter of time before you will have an army of support.”
We like the view from the front better than the alternative.
President & CEO
About BioLargo BioLargo focuses exclusively on methods and systems that harness and deliver nature’s best disinfectant, free iodine, in a safe, efficient, environmentally sensitive and cost effective manner. BioLargo (BLGO.OB) features two patented, eco-friendly and successfully proven iodine platform technologies. The company has launched three healthy, money-saving, odor and moisture control products into national distribution under the “Odor-No-More” brand name. Through its strategic alliance with Ioteq, it has 150 agriculture users for the Isan System in Australia and New Zealand and is preparing to commercialize the system in the USA as well as throughout the world.
The following recent articles help illustrate the MRSA problem:
“The often feared and sometimes deadly infections caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) are now moving out of hospitals and emerging as an even more virulent strain in community settings and on athletic teams, and raising new concerns about antibiotic resistance.”
“Post-surgical infections significantly increase the chance of hospital readmission and death and cost as much as $60,000 per patient, according to Duke University Medical Center researchers who conducted the largest study of its kind to date.”
“Staph was isolated in marine water and in intertidal beach sand in nine of 10 public beaches in Washington state, and half of the strains were MRSA, according to the study from researchers at the University of Washington. “
“Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a major problem in nursing homes with one in four residents carrying the bacteria, a study by Queen’s University Belfast and AntrimAreaHospital has found.”
“Now this same strain of MRSA has also been found in the United States. A new study by Tara Smith, a University of Iowa epidemiologist, found that 45 percent of pig farmers she sampled carried MRSA, as did 49 percent of the hogs tested.”
*Note- The published text was condensed as an excerpt of this writing, and the changes are not considered meaningful to its main message.