Antibiotic Resistance in Bacteria
For about 50 years, antibiotics have been the answer to many bacterial
Antibiotics are chemical substances that are secreted by living things.
Doctors prescribed these
medicines to cure many diseases. During World War II, it treated one of
the biggest killers
during wartime - infected wounds. It was the beginning of the antibiotic
era. But just when
antibiotics were being mass produced, bacteria started to evolve and
became resistant to these
Antibiotic resistance can be the result of different things. One cause
of resistance could
be drug abuse. There are people who believe that when they get sick,
antibiotics are the answer.
The more times you use a drug, the more it will decrease the effect it
has on you. That is
because the bacteria has found a way to avoid the effects of that
antibiotic. Another cause of
resistance is the improper use of drugs. When patients feel that the
symptoms of their disease
have improved, they often stop taking the drug. Just because the
symptoms have disappeared it
does not mean the disease has gone away. Prescribed drugs should be
taken until all the
medicine is gone so the disease is completely finished. If it is not,
then this will just give the
bacteria some time to find a way to avoid the effects of the drug.
One antibiotic that will always have a long lasting effect in history is
penicillin. This was
the first antibiotic ever to be discovered. Alexander Fleming was the
person responsible for the
discovery in 1928. In his laboratory, he noticed that in some of his
bacteria colonies, that he was
growing, were some clear spots. He realized that something had killed
the bacteria in these
clear spots, which ended up to be a fungus growth. He then discovered
that inside this mold was
a substance that killed bacteria.It was the antibiotic, penicillin.
Penicillin became the most powerful germ-killer known at that time.
disease-causing bacteria by interfering with their processes. Penicillin
kills bacteria by attaching
to their cell walls. Then it destroys part of the wall. The cell wall
breaks apart and bacteria dies.
After four years, when drug companies started to mass produce
penicillin, in 1943, the
first signs of penicillin-resistant bacteria started to show up. The
first bacteria that fought
penicillin was called Staphylococcus aureus. This bug is usually
harmless but can cause an
illness such as pneumonia. In 1967, another penicillin-resistant
bacteria formed. It was called
pneumococcus and it broke out in a small village in Papua New Guinea.
resistant bacteria that formed are Enterococcus faecium and a new strain
Antibiotic resistance can occur by a mutation of DNA in bacteria or DNA
another bacteria that is drug-resistant through transformation.
Penicillin-resistant bacteria can
alter their cell walls so penicillin can not attach to it. The bacteria
can also produce different
enzymes that can take apart the antibiotic.
Since antibiotics became so prosperous, all other strategies to fight
were put aside. Now since the effects of antibiotics are decreasing and
antibiotic resistance is
increasing, new research on how to battle bacteria is starting.
Antibiotic resistance spreads fast but efforts are being made to slow
infection control, discovering new antibiotics, and taking drugs more
appropriately are ways to
prevent resistant bacteria from spreading. In developing nations,
approaches are being made to
control infections such as hand washing by health care people, and
identifying drug resistant
infections quickly to keep them away from others.
The World Health
Organization has began a
global computer program that reports any outbreaks of drug-resistant
In the early 1900's, the discovery of penicillin began the antibiotic
era. People thought
they have finally won the battle with bacteria. But now since antibiotic
resistance is increasing
rapidly, new strategies must be developed to destroy these microbes. To
many scientists the
antibiotic era is over.
Bylinsky, Gene. Sept. 5,1995. The new fight against killer microbes.
Fortune. p. 74-76.
Dixon, Bernard. March 17,1995. Return of the killer bugs.
New Statesman & Society. p. 29-32.
Levy, Stuart B. Jan. 15,1995. Dawn of the post-antibiotic era?
Patient Care. p. 84-86.
Lewis, Ricki. Sept. 1995. The rise of antibiotic-resistant infections.
FDA Consumer. p. 11-15.
Miller, Julie Ann. June 1995. Preparing for the postantibiotic era.
BioScience. p. 384-392.
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