Breaking Bad Biotics lecture at UOW breaks some bacteria myths

TACKLING BIOTICS: Professor Jon Iredell headlined the Breaking Bad Biotics lecture at University of Wollongong on Tuesday. Picture: Sylvia Liber
TACKLING BIOTICS: Professor Jon Iredell headlined the Breaking Bad Biotics lecture at University of Wollongong on Tuesday. Picture: Sylvia Liber

No body really likes bacteria but killing them off is no good for our health.

In fact leading antimicrobial resistance expert Professor Jon Iredell from the University of Sydney and Westmead Hospital is of the belief remaining healthy depends on preserving their ‘’balance inside us and around us’’.

‘’I think at the moment bacteria is seen a bit like the cockroach on the kitchen floor. It’s disgusting. You just want to stand on it,’’ Prof Iredell said.

‘’But I think people are getting the message that bacteria are everywhere. They are part of us. They are part of our good health and we need to preserve them and preserve their balance inside us and around us, if we want to remain healthy.’’

I think at the moment bacteria is seen a bit like the cockroach on the kitchen floor. It’s disgusting. You just want to stand on it.

Professor Jon Iredell

The professor was at the University of Wollongong on Tuesday delivering the ‘Breaking Bad Biotics’ one-day workshop and public lecture.

It’s part of the antimicrobial resistance summit, which continues on Tuesday, bringing together top scientists, health practitioners, policy makers, engineers and educators, to find ways to tackle one of the biggest global threats to public health.

A UK government report projects that antimicrobial-resistant infections could lead to at least 10 million additional deaths per year and cost the global economy up to US$100 trillion by 2050.

Professor Antonoine van Oijen also spoke at the Breaking Bad Biotics lecture at UOW. Picture: Sylvia Liber

Professor Antonoine van Oijen also spoke at the Breaking Bad Biotics lecture at UOW. Picture: Sylvia Liber

‘’It’s clearly not simple, we’ve been grappling with this for awhile but have failed to resolve,’’ Prof Iredell said.

‘’But bacteria can be managed if we take a much more rounded ecologically-framed view..that is to say that the phenomenon of anitibiotic resistance is simply the phenomenon of nature adapting to essentially pressure that we are putting it under.

‘’Bacteria adapt, that's their nature. They’ve been doing that before humans evolved and they will continue to do it until long after humans have gone. We don’t necessarily need to destroy all the bacteria but rather to manage them.

‘’You are better of not using a whole lot of unnecessary toxins to kill all of the bacteria because a lot of them are doing you good and actually much less than we think are doing us harm.’’