Submitted by frlarry on Fri, 12/02/2005 - 20:24
A report at CNN.com, "CDC: Deadly bacterial illness appears to be spreading" is a strong reminder that hospital routine is not always effective, and sometimes requires rapid and even extensive tuning. The world has responded relatively slowly to epidemic diseases in recent decades, largely due to vast differences in policy approaches among those charged with the general welfare, and largely due to the tendency to seek technical fixes before trying to change behavior in any fundamental way. The disease mentioned in the article appears to be quite aptly named, "Clostridium difficile." It is certainly proving "difficile" (French for "difficult") to deal with. What is important to recognize in this specific case is that the typically approaches to controlling the disease are decidedly not working, due to the bacterium's unusual ability to mutate and adapt to survive efforts to control or eliminate it with antibiotics. It appears to be spreading, as well, in spite of careful efforts to scrub it away with antibacterial soaps. Finally, efforts to reduce it with antibiotics can even backfire, as the antibiotics succeed in reducing other bacteria in situ, leaving Clostridium difficile free to flourish without competition. This reminds me of the damage that many so-called "modernist" ideas have wrecked in human culture, and the damage the Church has sometimes caused by condeming "modernism" in general. In overzealous efforts to root up the weeds, we can sometimes root up plants that were sown in the soil by God to counteract the weeds.