Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Antibiotic Resistance

Antibiotic resistance is on the rise. Following the mass production of penicillin in 1943, microbes appeared that could resist the widespread antibiotic. Unfortunately, antibiotic resistance spreads fast. "Between 1979 and 1987, for example, only 0.02 percent of pneumococcus strains infecting a large number of patients surveyed by the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were penicillin-resistant. CDC's survey included 13 hospitals in 12 states. Today, 6.6 percent of pneumococcus strains are resistant, according to a report in the June 15, 1994, Journal of the American Medical Association by Robert F. Breiman, M.D., and colleagues at CDC. The agency also reports that in 1992, 13,300 hospital patients died of bacterial infections that were resistant to antibiotic treatment."

Why such an increase in prevalence? Antibiotic resistance is the result of evolution. The natural variant with the ability to withstand an antibiotic's attack on a microbe has been favorably chosen by natural selection.

Although antibiotic resistance is a natural process, there are other factors contributing to the rise. These factors include: increased infection transmission as well as inappropriate antibiotic use.

What is there to fear? According to a report in the April 28, 1994, New England Journal of Medicine, researchers have identified bacteria in patient samples that "resist all currently available antibiotic drugs." While antibiotic resistance is inevitable, the process can be slowed through improving infection control, developing new antibiotics, and using drugs more appropriately.

To read more about The Rise of Antibiotic Resistance:

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