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Antibiotic Resistance: A Growing Problem Worldwide

There is a rising percentage of some common types of infections which are becoming resistant to the treatment by ordinary antibiotics. This is a rising problem in various countries throughout the world. This fact is also supported by a statewide survey conducted in the University of Iowa.

This study conducted by the Iowa Task Force for antibiotic resistance reveals that 27% of all invasive pneumococcal infections were resistant to penicillin in the year 2000 as compared to 24% in the year 1999. Lets discuss in this article about the big issue of antibiotic resistance.

Antibiotic Resistance

Big Issue : Antibiotic Resistance
World’s first antibiotic, penicillin became available in the year 1940 and right from that time, resistance has been a problem. Hitherto, a bacteria evolved ways to evade one drug and a newer one became available.

But with the rising of drug resistance in bacteria, it has led to evolution of ‘super bugs’ and to treat them is barely possible. A very few antibiotics are being developed and researchers are worried that the world is running out of the effective methods to keep a check on these organisms.

There is a particular concern on a type of bacteria – a Gram negative bacteria, which is classified on the staining of its strain using a special technique under a microscope.

Escherichia coli (E. coli) is a bacterium that falls under this category is found in the gut. This spreads easily through the fecal matter and water. Its presence is also a common cause of urinary infections and it can also lead to production of pneumonia and other life threatening infections in our bloodstream among patients in hospitals.

Klebsiella pneumoniae, a bacteria is also responsible for many hospital infections also belong to Gram negative bacteria.

Swapping Genes
A very few antibiotics are effective against Gram negative organisms. These germs can not only swiftly swap genes, but are also resistant to many of the drugs. The disease causing strains of K. pneumoniae, E. coli and various others Gram negative bacteria have come into view with genes for ESBLs (‘extended spectrum beta-lactamases’).

Various enzymes are produced by these genes which render the bacteria resistant to the effects of many types of antibiotics. Some Asian countries have considerably higher levels of ESBL infections, especially in India. Though, in other countries, they are found only in hospitals and in these Asian countries, they are of same levels as in hospitals in other countries.

The high level of ESBL-producing E. coli shows the poor hygienic conditions and improper use of antibiotics in these countries, like if the right type of antibiotics are used, they are not administered in appropriate doses.

Antibiotic resistance

Carbapenems, an antibiotic is used for treatment of several ESBL infections. But, the outcome is that bacteria has evolved ways to resist these drugs also. The first Klebsiella pneumoniae carbapenemase was evidenced in the U.S. in 1996. This highly immune forms of Klebsiella have now reached countries across the globe.

In the year 2010, there was an uproar for spread of another form of carbapenem resistance. Many countries observed that people who returned to India and other South Asian countries after medical treatment from the US were infected with bacteria that had the New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase-1 (NDM-1) gene.

Newspapers, news channels and magazines were flooded with such news. A remarkable number of NDM-1-producing E. coli cases have been identified which suggests that this resistance was being spread in the environment as well as in hospitals. This was observed by Patrice Nordmann and other researchers as published in a journal earlier this year.

But of present, NDM-1-producing bacteria is thought to be an infection acquired in the hospital. Bacteria such as those with NDM-1 gene can be treated only by a new drug called tigecycline and colistin, which was discovered earlier. Colistin has to administered under a supervision’s guidance as there can be signs of kidney damage. If this kind of highly resistant bacteria began spreading in the community, it can be a very dangerous situation.

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