Last week, news broke that researchers had discovered antibiotic-resistant E. coli bacteria in a Pennsylvania woman’s urinary tract. Researchers found that the bacteria contained a gene, mcr-1, that made it immune to colistin, a super-potent antibiotic of last resort. Headlines incorrectly declared that that first-ever drug-resistant “superbug” had been found in an American human, and the internet promptly lost its collective marbles.

But accuracy issues aside, some freakout is warranted. Anyone who has ever suffered from the distinct, searing pain of a urinary tract infection — akin to having a tiny demon crawling into your bladder — can tell you that the prospect of such an affliction being incurable is terrifying. And these infections are very, very common: According to the National Institutes of Health, UTIs are the second-most common infection in the United States, prompting upwards of 8 million clinical visits annually. The likelihood that a woman will contract a urinary tract infection at some point in her life is above 50 percent.

The nightmare of the unbeatable infection has already been looming in the minds of scientists, the medical community, and even much of the public for a while: Soon, common ailments like UTIs or tuberculosis might be totally untreatable, because the bacteria and pathogens that infect us will have evolved to withstand our strongest defenses against them — namely, antimicrobial drugs. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 23,000 people already die each year from bacteria, viruses, or other pathogens that have developed antimicrobial resistance.