In the movie I am Legend Will Smith plays Robert Neville, a doctor who believes he is the lone survivor after a virus destroys the human population. Some survivors mutated into zombie-vampire creatures that roams the night willing to eat anything, much like me after a Monday afternoon shift. In the movie, Neville wants to repopulate the earth again with normal humans, and eradicate the light-fearing monsters. Terrifying.
However, what is scarier is that this scenario happens in the GI system of thousands of patients around the world (well, sort of).
Clostridium difficile. This awful little bacteria creates havoc. Whenever a person takes antibiotics, the medication kills off all whatever bacteria in the body is sensitive. As you may know, all of us have good bacteria present in our Gastrointestinal systems. After the antibiotic is gone, the remaining bacteria repopulate the GI system. Rarely, the bacteria the repopulates is Clostridium difficile. Normally, C. diff is kept to a minimum in our GI systems due to the competition by the rest of the good GI bacteria. However, when all of the good bacteria is destroyed, C. diff can reproduce uninhibited and cause intestinal chaos.
So, our normal bacteria is like the normal people on earth before the zombies. Then the plague occurs and wipes out most of the population (antibiotics). Then, the zombie-vampires (C. diff) left over have nothing to keep them from overrunning everything. C. diff is trouble trouble trouble!
So then what happens?
Diarrhea. Abdominal pain. More diarrhea.
Lots of it.
I’m talking about copious liquid magma spurting from your anus and splattering like a dumpster full of week old salmon emptied from a blimp. I’d like to say that’s the grossest thing I’m going to type this entry. If you have the courage, read on.
It survives when other bacteria die from the antibiotics. So how can it be treated? Take more antibiotics. This sounds counter intuitive, but certain antibiotics will select for C. diff. This allows the patient to repopulate their own gut with the regular, healthy bacteria… sometimes.
Unfortunately, these antibiotics are marginally effective against C. diff, and only two antibiotics work for this. It is one tough bug. Thus, it can linger and return time and time again. People die from this infection.
If only someone could come up with a way to repopulate the intestines with healthy gut bacteria. How, oh how could one go about getting good bacteria into the gut to compete?
In the movie I am Legend this would be the equivalent to shipping in millions upon millions of regular humans back to join Will Smith in his fight against the zombie-vampires. That didn’t happen in the movie, but you should go watch it, since the movie was fantastic (trailer at the end).
But how to treat this in C. diff infected people with bacteria resistant to treatment?
Two words: Stool transplant.
You obtain a sample of good bacteria from someone without C. diff. Then you repopulate your intestinal bacteria with their bacteria. Let me re-word that like a 5-year old.
You eat someones poop.
Now to the best of my knowledge you don’t have to eat it like a stinky serving of steamy soft serve chocolate ice cream. It can be inserted via enema. Or, a NG tube can be inserted down your nose and a poo-slurry can be transferred into your stomach. However, the result is the same, someone else’s poop gets into you.
Why on earth would you actually go through with it?
It works very well.
In fact it has been found to be 90% effective in treated even the most resistant strains of C. diff (as if someone would just go directly to this as the first line treatment). Click here for the wikipage
So, these people can actually fart and say “it wasn’t me,” cause it was someone else’s poop in them. I suppose the bad breath factor might be someone nauseating, but if the other option is death, serve me up a steamy log of salvation.
What would you do?
Just think how much miraculous poo I have wasted. For what it is worth, if anyone out there need me to be their “brown cross,” just let me know, I’ll give you a life-saving hot lunch because I truly care about each and everyone one of you.
Here’s the trailer for I am Legend, I normally don’t like scary movies, but I do like this one.