The Rise of Antibiotic-Resistant Infections
Antibiotic resistance is the type of drug resistance whereby the involved microorganism or bacteria genetically evolves to be able to resist the particular antibiotic introduced. This way that specific antibiotic cannot eliminate it so a new one has to be developed.
In medicine, it is said that antibiotic resistance occurs either due to misuse or due to abuse of antibiotics (Hawkey & Jones pg 10). In most countries, antibiotics are sold with no doctors prescription, mostly because everyone wants the source of income, or the physicians themselves just prescribe them, as they do not want to take time explaining about other drugs or the right mannerisms to take antibiotics. On usage, this leads to formation of resistant strains by the microorganism. Therefore, if the same drug i.e. antibiotic is introduced to the same bacteria on a later day it is ineffective. Assumptions and/or lack of knowledge by patients is also another medical course e.g. most people think that antibiotics are effective for the common cold whereas antibiotics are completely useless against viral infections (McNulty, Boyle, Nichols, Clappison, Davey, pg 63-68). Under usage of prescribed antibiotics is also a common reason for the rise of antibiotic resistance. This happens if a patient was under dosage then in the course of medication, he/she felt better thus stopped taking the medicine. This decreases the concentration of the antibiotic in the body tissues thus increasing the chances of the organism becoming resistant to those antibacteria.
Another reason that leads to resistance is the addition of antibiotics especially to livestock feed. These may affect the products i.e. meat, eggs and milk. The resistant bacteria in the animals could then be transmitted to humans through consumption of the products. However, in the case of meat, complete cooking inactivates all bacteria. Though not classified as a major reason, the use of antibacterial in products as soaps is discouraged. Practice of industrial manufacture of pharmaceuticals that is not licensed may also lead to strain formation of antibiotic resistance i.e. if certain steps in the process are skipped.
Natural reasons also lead to the rise of these antibiotic-resistant infections. In this case, the genes that pass on the resistivity are called the environmental resistomes (Wright pg 589-594). This happens due to natural genetical mutation of microorganisms. Just like any other living organism, an encounter with a substance that decreases the survival chances triggers it to try to find a way to oppose its elimination. This way the species slowly mutates and in time, it takes effect such that the organism grows to be resistant of that particular antibiotic.
Bacteria adapts to its environment in various ways among which are discussed. First, it may be in a method called inherent resistance or natural resistance. This means that the bacterium becomes resistant to the anti bacterial agent e.g., how the gram-negative bacteria are mostly resistant to penicillin. It is because they have an outer membrane that makes it hard or impossible for the antibiotics introduced, in this case penicillin, to penetrate. Therefore, alteration of the bacterias membrane causes it to be antibiotic resistant.
Secondly, it may be through adaptive/acquired resistance. As mentioned earlier, this adaptation is due to a change in the genetic composition of the particular bacteria which happens as a response to pressure brought about by the antibacterial agent and once the alteration is successful in that bacteria it is passed on to the subsequent generations of the species.
In addition, bacteria also adapt to environmental conditions such as pH, temperature variations, nature of the surrounding it is present in etc. An example is the Vibrio parahaemolyticus whose habitat was that of a watery environment but due to environmental variations adapted to movement in more solid surfaces through the formation of swarmer cells.
Several steps have been undertaken to reduce the rapidly increasing resistance to antibacterial agents like the insistence of hygiene by individuals and mostly in hospitals where patients are vulnerable to infection i.e. cleanliness in wards, full time use of gloves and other protective gear by the staff. Testing rooms and laboratories have also been moved further away from the patients area to prevent contamination. Rules have also been implemented to doctors, pharmacists and physicians that prohibit them from wrong prescriptions especially of antibiotics and the related medications. This decreases the rate of adaptation by the related microorganisms. Organizations and movements are being started that are teaching people and imposing knowledge about usage of antibiotics and the risks foreseen in the medical sector if abuse of antibiotics persists. Therefore, as far as self-discipline goes, it is upon the individual to know that it is important to follow instructions given by the doctors on prescription and avoid under dosage and over dosage. Scientific research is also underway trying to find better and more advanced antibiotics that microorganisms will not be able to resist. Prevention of diseases also by addition of cytokines in place of antibiotics in animal feeds is also a measure being undertaken. Since these proteins are made in the animals body by natural effect, they do not contribute to the antibiotic resistance especially after a disease.
Hawkey, Peter M. and Jones, Annie M., The changing epidemiology of resistance: The
Journal of antimicrobial chemotherapy Oxford Publishers, 2009. Print
McNulty, Cliodna A., Boyle, Paul., Nichols, Tom., Clappison, Peter., Davey, Peter. The publics
Attitudes to and compliance with antibiotics: Journal of Antimicrob Chemother Oxford
Publishers, 2007. Print
Wright, Gerard D. Antibiotic Resistance in the environment: a link to the clinic? Current
Opinion in Microbiology Oxford Publishers, 2010. Print
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