The Global Threat of Antibiotic Resistance

By Drs. David Niesel and Norbert Herzog, Medical Discovery News

The rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is reaching epidemic proportions, and if new antibiotics aren’t created to combat even common bacterial infections, we may find ourselves without the ability to combat even the common illnesses. Can you imagine going back to the dark ages before penicillin?

While first-world countries use the most antibiotics, a new report reveals that antibiotic use in second- and third-world countries is steadily increasing. While this may be good in terms of treating and preventing diseases, it has some serious consequences for the global threat of antibiotic resistance. As researchers wrote in a recent report, “When it comes to antibiotic resistance, the rich pay with their wallets and the poor pay with their lives.”

The use of antibiotics grew by an astounding 30 percent from 2000-2010, and according to the report, “Antibiotic use drives antibiotic resistance.” The countries with the biggest increases in antibiotic use were India and South Africa. You can track antibiotic use and resistance worldwide on the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy’s website. Three dangerous antibiotic-resistant bacteria, commonly called superbugs, to public health are E. coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae and Staphylococcus aureus. Between 2008 and 2014, the incidence of multiple drug resistance in Klebsiella doubled. Doctors in India are using an antibiotic of last resort to fight Klebsiella infections.

There are multiple ways bacteria can become resistant to antibiotics. Bacteria can create new ways to function, subverting antibiotics completely. They can change sites within themselves where drugs act, rendering the antibiotics ineffective. They can actively pump antibiotics out to remove them. They can produce enzymes that alter or destroy drugs. Bacteria can even work together, forming a dense barrier called a biofilm that prevents —> Read More