Fight Against The Nightmare Bacteria The race to make stronger antibiotics has started, as bacterial resistance continues to grow at an alarming rate.

Glossary

Resistant: Not affected or harmed by something. Bacteria like CRE have gotten resistant to wide range of antibiotics. When a bacteria that is resistant infects someone it could be as bad as having to surgically remove the bacteria.

Contagious: Easily spread to others by contact, airborne, bodily fluids or other ways. Most bacteria are contagious and spread very fast.

Transmission: When something is spread or passed from one person or thing to another. When we know how the transmission of any disease or bacteria works, it could give researchers an idea of what kind of antibiotic would work against it.

Infertility: Not being able to reproduce. When sexually transmitted diseases infect someone they can end up causing infertility for both females and males.

MRSA(Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus): This bacterium is responsible for most of the the difficult-to-treat infections in humans. It is the most common type of resistant bacteria that is found mostly in health facilities.

Antibiotics: medicine that stops the growth of or destroys microorganisms. Most of the resistant bacteria have grown to become resistant to almost all of the antibiotics that are available.

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Why is it important to make new and stronger antibiotics?

It is important to make new and stronger antibiotics because normal injuries would be harder to treat as the bacteria continue to gain more resistance. In fact, Minor scrapes and routine infections could become life threatening. Common surgeries would start looking like Russian roulette, according to law professor Nicholas Bagley at the University of Michigan, and law professor Kevin Outterson at Boston University and the executive director of Carb-X, which promotes public-private partnerships combating antibiotic resistance. If better antibiotics are not made then we will be going back in time to where bacteria infections were almost completely untreatable. “Antibiotic resistance increasingly threatens to send society back to a pre-antibiotic era that would significantly curtail many of the advances made in medicine. Surgery, ventilator care, intensive-care units and many aggressive cancer chemotherapy regimens require antibiotics to work,” according Emily L. Heil, an assistant professor of pharmacy practice and science at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy in Baltimore. Since so many antibiotic resistant bacteria are getting stronger at an alarming rate, it is important to develop new antibiotics as soon as possible.

Are there antibiotics strong enough to kill the resistant bacteria?

Scientists and microbiologists have been developing antibiotics that are strong enough to kill the resistant bacteria in an infected person. Sanjeev Mariathasan, an immunologist at Genentech, who has been working with his team on a new antibiotic called Genentech’s Kadcyla in antibiotic development says, “the treatment works like a stealth bomb. First, the antibiotic component docks onto Staph bacteria that are floating freely in the mouse's body. Then, the bacteria invade cells, carrying the therapy with them. Once inside, enzymes break the connection between the antibody and the antibiotic, activating the antibiotic precisely where it is needed to kill the bacteria.” These antibiotics attach onto the resistant bacteria and activate as soon as the bacteria invades the cells; this is much quicker as the antibiotics combat the bacteria before they can start to have a full effect on a human or start to mutate. Microbiology teacher Lynette Youngsma said, “The best way to find an antibiotic strong enough to fully kill the resistant bacteria, is to test a strain individually first to avoid from the bacteria gaining a wider resistance.” The reason that it is better to test an antibiotic first before using it as treatment is to avoid from the resistant bacteria becoming more resistant. If more antibiotics are used, the growth of the resistant bacteria increase.

How does overuse of antibiotics increase the growth of resistant bacteria?

The overuse of bacteria causes the resistant bacteria to grow and spread faster, because if more antibiotics are introduced to a bacteria too quickly it gains resistant much faster. According to Dr. Scott Flanders, an internist and the director of the Hospitalist Program at the University of Michigan , “potentially 30% to 50% of antibiotics prescribed in U.S. hospitals are unneeded.” This shows that patients are prescribed antibiotics when they do not even need it. Antibiotics can be very efficient at treating bacterial infections, but if someone does not need it, it could be more harmful than helpful to the human body. According to Judy Stone, Forbes Contributor, “overuse of antibiotics can lead to side effects, such as drug rashes.” This shows the harm that can be done by antibiotics if they are not administered at the right time or mistakenly used for a virus. There are many precautions being taken to decrease the use of antibiotics in medical facilities.

What steps are health officials taking to stop the overuse of antibiotics?

Health officials have decided to take many actions against the overuse of antibiotics. They have realized that they need to start being more careful with their antibiotic subscriptions. Board-certified emergency medicine physician Travis Stork tweeted from his twitter account, “ Antibiotic overuse continues to be a problem. They are worthless for treating the common cold and can do harm.” He explains that hospitals prescribe antibiotics to patients that do not need them. Viruses like the common cold are often mistaken with bacteria, so doctors mistakenly prescribe antibiotics. According to law professor Nicholas Bagley at the University of Michigan, and law professor Kevin Outterson at Boston University, “California passed a law that bans antibiotics used regularly for disease prevention when animals are not sick.” Antibiotics are used on animals and it is not necessary, people get antibiotics from the poultry and beef that they consume.

If someone manages to get infected by resistant bacteria, how will they be treated?

People that are infected with resistant bacteria are isolated from other patients to avoid the bacteria from spreading in the first place. Patients are giving large amounts of the strongest antibiotics the hospital has. Dawn Terashita, acting deputy director for acute communicable disease control at the L.A. County health department says, “a laboratory would have to test the bacteria to determine what antibiotic it might be susceptible to; then a provider would prescribe a medication on a case-by-case basis.” Doctors that have patients with resistant bacteria spend a long time at the hospital, because the process of the treatments takes a long time. Last resort antibiotics are used for treatment and monitored by health officials. When these last resort antibiotics do not work effectively, doctors surgically remove the bacteria as the last treatment. Raidió Teilifís Éireann, Ireland's National Public Service Broadcaster states, “The mother-of-one, who was born with cystic fibrosis, had a severe lung infection and her condition was rapidly deteriorating. But in a world-first, doctors removed both of her lungs - the source of bacterial infection - in a bid to save her life.” When the bacteria begins to spread and grow too fast, it will have to be surgically removed to avoid organ failure in the patient.

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