The chain of cause and effect

Here’s a plot outline:

  • Narcotics are made illegal.

  • Illegal street drugs are often impure, and it’s hard to get clean “works” (syringes etc.)

  • Drug users try to avoid infection from injecting, by mixing antibiotics with their heroin.

  • Naturally occurring staphylococcus aureus, commonly found in the nasal passages and easily spread by sneezing, rapidly gains resistance to all the common antibiotics.

  • A woman in Detroit gets a staph infection. It continues to get worse for over a year, none of the drugs she is given have any effect on the bacteria.

  • Doctors are forced to amputate one of her toes. They test the bacteria, and discover that they are resistant to every single antibiotic—even vancomycin, the antibiotic of last resort (because of its awful side effects).

  • The woman is placed in total isolation. The CDC are flown in, and 400 people are tested to ensure that they aren’t carrying the killer bacteria.

  • Laboratory tests discover two relatively untested drugs discovered in the last two years that can kill the deadly bacteria. The woman is treated under careful supervision, and just about recovers. No other colonies of the bacteria are found.

It sounds like The Andromeda Strain or a prequel to Twelve Monkeys, except it’s a real story. And the sequel may not have a happy ending. Already, nearly 100,000 people die from staph infections every year. If the next resistant strain spreads before being discovered—say, if it mutates in the body of some homeless junkie with no medical coverage—we could see a plague that will kill millions, rich and poor alike.

Still, there’s no reason to legalize drugs or provide universal healthcare, and you’d be a fool and a Communist to think otherwise…