Controlling The Threat Of Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria
Antibiotic resistant bacteria have developed due to the use and overuse of antibiotics.
Treating an infection with an antibiotic kills the germ cells that cause a specific disease and may kill a large number of bacteria. The antibiotics can kill beneficial bacteria as well.
Developing Immunity to Antibiotic’s
Some disease producing bacteria have developed immunity to antibiotics. This condition is the result of the high level of use of antibiotics as a prescription treatment and the use of antibiotics in animal feed to make the food animals grow at a faster rate.
How Treatment Works
The large numbers of bacteria in an infection reproduce rapidly and a few of the bacteria evolve to be resistant to antibiotics. These resistant bacteria survive and persist in the body causing the disease that the bacteria produce to persist. The resistance to antibiotics can be passed on to other bacteria.
In the United States over two million cases of antibiotic resistant bacterial infection are reported every year. Almost one percent of people infected by antibiotic resistant bacteria die from the bacterial infection. Clostridium difficile is a species of antibiotic resistant bacteria that results in 25 percent of antibiotic resistant bacterial infections in the United States every year.
The cost in dollars caused by antibiotic immune bacteria is estimated to be over $20 billion in unnecessary medical treatment and $35 billion in lost productivity at work.
Antibiotic resistant bacterial infection threatens people that are undergoing treatment for a disease that reduces the ability of their body to fight disease. These people include cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, patients who are undergoing complex surgical procedures like hip replacements or cardiac bypass surgery, organ and bone marrow transplant patients, people who require dialysis, and people that are treated for rheumatoid arthritis.
Diseases, medications, and treatments that reduce the body’s natural ability to fight disease can promote antibiotic resistant bacterial infections. The continued use of injections and open wounds in some disease also promotes the potential to acquire an antibiotic resistant bacterial infection.
The proliferation of antibiotic resistant bacteria and the growth in the number of antibiotic resistant bacterial species is the result of the over use of antibiotics to treat common diseases and the use of antibiotics in food animals to promote growth.
About one half of the antibiotics prescribed in the United States are unnecessary. Many of the common diseases that people get an antibiotic for can be cured by the human body’s own resistance mechanisms that have evolved over time to deal with many diseases. The over use of antibiotics also allows the spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria between people through normal activities like kissing.
Twenty percent of emergency room visits in the United States are the result of the misuse of antibiotics or an allergic reaction to antibiotics. More children are admitted to emergency rooms due to reactions to antibiotics than any other group.
Antibiotics are used in animal food to produce disease resistance and make the animals grow larger and faster. The problem is that antibiotic use in food animals also produces antibiotic resistant bacteria. These bacteria can infect people that deal with the animal directly and in some instances antibiotic resistant bacteria can be transferred to people that consume the food animal especially if the meat is not cooked properly.
The two most important ways to fight antibiotic resistant bacteria that exist presently and to prevent the development of other strains that could be a more deadly danger is limiting the use of antibiotics in people and in food animals.