Friday, April 30, 2010

Bystander phenomenon

In recent weeks there have been many articles about the bystander effect - the reluctance of people to get involved when someone is in trouble.

I would like to suggest that the bystander phenomenon is far more wide spread than recent events would suggest. Here is an example: While 8000 to 12000 Canadians are dying from antibiotic-resistant superbug infections annually the joke is on us, as some countries still practice technology discovered by the Canadian, Felix d'Herelle in 1917. Phage therapy uses highly specific viruses, bacteriophages, which are harmless for humans, to treat bacterial infections. Phage therapy is not currently approved or practiced in Canada. According to a letter signed by a former federal health minister it can be made available legally to Canadians under the Special Access Program of our Food & Drugs Act! While lots of information on phage therapy is available in the medical and scientific literature, the Canadian film: Killer Cure: The Amazing Adventures of Bacteriophage and the book by Thomas Haeusler entitled, Viruses vs. Superbugs, a solution to the antibiotics crisis? ( see ) are available at Ottawa libraries. Information is available on phage therapy treatment in Georgia , Europe ( ), or Poland - ( ) or more recently at the Wound Care Center, Lubbock, Texas ( ) . What is perhaps more frustrating is that the Public Health Agency of Canada(PHAC) in it's Sustainable Development Strategy 2007-2010 ( ) assures: "Availability of phage therapy for E. coli O157:H7 in food animals". It seems to me that PHAC should focus on treating Canadians before food animals. Canada should establish 'The Superbug Victim Felix d'Herelle Memorial Center for Experimental Phage Therapy' to provide phage therapy to patients when antibiotics fail or when patients are allergic to antibiotics or are considering trips to seek treatment in other countries! Here is the bystander effect: How many persons (including the newspapers) who will read this will look at the literature to see if my information is scientifically valid and then write their elected officials or publish an article to object to the fact that phage therapy is not available in Canada? Remember all of us are potential victims of superbugs - when MRSA has come for a personal visit it will be too late!!