Is MRSA a Security Threat?

The conventional security threat.

If you’re a writer or a filmmaker in search of a fresh storyline then look no further than the 172 page thought-packed report just released by Britain’s Ministry of Defence, “Global Strategic Trends – Out to 2045,” which warns us of emerging security threats over the next 30 years.

It features our usual suspects: climate change driving millions from coastlines creating havoc, and the increasing threat of cyber-attack as information and communication goes digital. Trending upwards, for example, are the rise of robots, drones and corporate armies, e.g., Blackwater, that will change how we do war, and; as a predicted 3.9 billion people are likely to suffer water shortages, it will replace, or complement, oil, as a primary cause of global conflict.

Then we’re introduced to the new kid on the block: for the first time in its 5 year reporting history the MoD lists antibiotic-resistant pathogens as a “security threat.” The reason is two-fold. First, as antibiotics are rendered useless, infections caused by battlefield wounds will result in more lost lives and limbs than is the case now.

Second, and more compelling, is the effect of the anticipated combination of 4 events: (1) an increase in world population from the current 7.2 billion to 10 billion, (2) the fact that the fastest growing segment of the population will be the elderly – the number of people over 60 will be 2 billion in 30 years, representing a quarter of the globe’s population, (3) urbanization – by 2045, the proportion of people living in cities will increase from the current 50% to around 70% of the world’s population, and (4) poverty – 1 billion people throughout the world already live in slums, lacking basic amenities, and there could be almost 3 billion people living in these conditions by 2045.

The best economic evidence we have says inequality is rising to unprecedented levels, especially in the United States. The MoD report says if we don’t handle the coming economic and demographic shift properly the result will be the overcrowding of a vast and vulnerable (elderly & poor) population. That, in turn, will drive an increase in communicable disease where “social unrest or even violence could ensue.”

The emerging security threat: The enemy within - a million of these guys fit on the head of a pin but they kill & wound us more than our recent wars have.

But if framing infectious disease as a security threat is where we’re headed, take a look at where we are right now using just 1 disease-causing microbe, MRSA, as a case study. In the US alone it kills at least 11,000 people a year and blinds, amputates, and disfigures, etc. more than 80,000. Compare those numbers to a known and conventional security threat, the Vietnam War. Over its 20 year history ending in 1975 it killed roughly 3,000 US military members a year and blinded, amputated, and disfigured, etc. just over 7,500 more.

And that’s just a comparison to MRSA. All known antibiotic-resistant pathogens in the US result in about 23,000 killed and 2 million wounded every year. Over a 20 year period, that’s 460,000 dead and 40 million injured. The Vietnam totals are 58,300 dead and just over 150,000 wounded.

So here’s the question. If you are wounded or dying does it matter whether the cause is bullets or bacteria? We can even take it one step further. If a security threat infiltrated the US killing and wounding 23,000 and 2 million people respectively, every year, we would call that domestic terrorism and we would be living under a state of emergency. So looking at the current infectious disease carnage in this way, and given that the British Ministry of Defence is framing the rising global crisis of antibiotic resistance as a coming “security threat,” why aren’t we calling it that right now?

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One Response to “Is MRSA a Security Threat?”

  1. Muzza says:

    You know, it’s funny, but I don’t think the Constitution gives us a right to breathe air wouihtt chemical toxins in it, and it doesn’t guarantee us the right to drink water that’s uncontaminated with lead.I don’t think it guarantees anyone the right to either an education or health care, either.But wouihtt breathable air, drinkable water, and education and health care, life for millions of Americans will become Hell.I think the Preamble to the US Constitution, with its remarks about promoting the general welfare, does envision the US government taking many different steps to advance well, the welfare of the American people. I think it’s Constitutionally legal, within the letter of the law, and it’s within the spirit behind the Constitution for the government to promote clear water, clean air, an educated public and affordable health care because wouihtt all these things, the general welfare goes down the toilet.So I agree with you that these good things these things that are almost essential to life, and to a civilized society are not necessarily natural rights. But I don’t care. I think we as a society should be promoting them anyway, and that the US government should be playing a big role in that effort. As for violence the threat of violence uh, how do you think the American Revolution was won?How do you think the United States expanded from being a relatively small nation consisting of just 13 states along the Atlantic seaboard, to being a huge nation of 50 states stretching from the Rio Grande to the Canadian border, and from Plymouth Rock to Hawaii?How do you think the slaves were freed and the Union was preserved in the 1860s?How do you imagine that several hundred million white Causians, by the year 2000, ended up owning and controlling millions of acres of real estate that just 500 years ago was the exclusive domain of the Native American tribes?I’ve read Ayn Rand on the supposed virtue of selfishness so long as the selfishness is never accompanied by force or the threat of force.But throughout history, how many successful societies can you name that weren’t established, preserved extend through force or the threat of force?England? France? The USA? Germany? Japan? The Netherlands? Italy? Russia? China? Where in the world do you see anybody owning enjoying the use of private property or natural resources, where there’s no prior history of force the threat of force? Was this answer helpful?

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