The worsening threat of antibiotic-resistant super bugs

February 7, 2009  |  General

Since the dawn of the antibiotic era bacteria have been able to acquire resistance to these drugs. Some are better at it than others. Up until recently, though, antibiotic researchers have by and large been able to stay one jump ahead of the bugs. No longer. We are now seeing some truly frightening super-bugs — bacteria resistant to all known antibiotics. Equally disturbing is that there really aren’t any drugs in the immediate research pipeline that will help us.

There are two reasons this has happened. The first is that bacteria reproduce very, very rapidly — sometimes as rapidly as every 20 minutes or so. The result is pure evolution in action. Every time DNA, the stuff of our genes, reproduces itself there is a very small, but still real, chance that the DNA will not be replicated accurately. These random mutations are most often of no consequence. But sometimes they have major effects; they can alter the makeup of the bacterial cell by changing some aspect of it that was targeted by an antibiotic, rendering the bacteria resistant to its effects. So that antibiotic no longer works in an infection from that kind of bacteria. The offspring of such resistant bacteria are themselves resistant. Worse, in some situations resistant bacteria can pass their resistance on to other bacteria that are not even their progeny, or even the same species of bug.

The second reason for emerging resistance, as most of us should know, is the truly widespread use of antibiotics — in medicine, veterinary practice, and agriculture — when they are not needed, such as for colds. Antibiotics don’t help colds because viruses, the cause of colds, aren’t affected by them and never have been. This situation gives a selective advantage to those bacteria that are resistant over those that aren’t. It’s pure evolution.

So the scary situation we find ourselves in is party caused by biology and partly caused by us. The biology we can’t change — but we must restrict our antibiotic use to situations where they really work.


  1. Sometimes, Death Is Good….. For A Vicious Unicellular Microorganism

    There are a variety of different types of foreign bacterial infections one can get from many different sources, yet some are more common than others. If they are not beneficial for your physiology, they all should die in order to restore your health.
    Bacteria are a simple life form, yet are incredibly productive and efficient. As with other life forms, it exists to reproduce, and does so about every hour, and evolves and adapts to its environment as needed. To do this, it fully utilizes all available resources and energy to develop the protein that is essential for its survival, and bacteria have the ability to adapt as needed to assure this happens.
    It needs exactly 7 genes to produce the essential ribosomes for this to occur. Any more or less genes than 7, the bacteria is not maximizing its efficiency to survive and reproduce. Amazing.
    Strept infections are caused by what are called gram positive bacteria, and are unique that these bacteria grow in pairs. Staph bacterial invasions are gram positive as well, yet it is the MRSA, Methicillin Resistant Staff Aureous microbes of this type often are very difficult to treat normally when a patient suffers from their damage from being invaded by these bacteria. Another difficult situation is when a patient is infected by VRE, Vancomycin Resistant Enterococci, as well.
    These MRSA and VRE pathogenic or disease causing bacteria are the ones that are the most clinically concerning for the health care provider.
    Group A strep infections can cause diseases such as strep throat and pneumonia. Since there are several types of bacteria, a diagnostic test called a culture and sensitivity is usually performed to assure the correct antibiotic is selected for treatment, as the bacteria are identified with this method.
    Typically, fluid from the area suspected of being infected is obtained from the patient suspected to have an infection and smeared on what is called a petrie dish. And then these dishes are incubated for 2 to 3 days. Gram positive bacteria stain during this process a dark violet or blue. Gram negative bacteria would be pink in color, and are capable of harm as well to a human being.
    When the culture is complete, technology offers recommendations on the appropriate class or brand of antibiotic for this bacteria present in another person- presuming the bacteria will not be resistant to the antibiotic recommended, as this happens on occasion.
    Usually, classes of antibiotics that are used to treat gram positive strep infections that are not VRE or MRSA are cephalosporins, macrolides, or general penicillins. If the microbe that is causing the infection is resistant to the antibiotic from such classes that are administered to the infected patient, particularly with methicillin and vancomycin, which is the case with VRE and MRSA bacteria, then there are other more aggressive antibiotics that will be chosen for this patient.
    Such brands and types of antibiotics for MRSA and VRE bacteria include Zyvox, which has both IV and oral dosage options. There are also other antibiotics, such as Cubicin. However these antibiotics for antibiotic resistant bacteria are given usually due to infections that have progressed to a more serious nature within a patient infected in such a way.
    Progressive medical conditions include sepsis, or blood infection, osteomyelitis, or bone infection, or Pneumonia, which is a serious lung infection. A hospital stay is normally required with such patients, as the last antibiotics mentioned for MRSA and VRE bacterial infections are given by IV administration initially for several days, if not several weeks.
    There are numerous classes and types of antibiotics available, yet bacterial resistance to most of these antibiotics constantly remains serious concern for the health care provider, and the infected patient, with MRSA at the top of the list of concerns for the health care providers.
    Dan Abshear

  2. If you want to hear a reader’s feedback 🙂 , I rate this article for 4/5. Decent info, but I have to go to that damn msn to find the missed pieces. Thanks, anyway!

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