Nowadays antibiotic resistance arises from the cumulative effect of several complex factors. One has been our cavalier attitude. For example, in 2009 an American supermarket chain began to advertise free antibiotics to attract customers. Whilst hospitals are beginning to oversee their own use of antibiotics, the agricultural community is largely uncontrolled after drugs are approved by government agencies. Outside of hospitals however, individual patients continue to insist on antibacterial treatments for viral infections. This stimulates the emergence of resistant bacteria.
Throughout history pathogens have attacked humans. Before the middle of the twentieth century we relied on our immune systems to survive these attack, and antibiotic resistance was unknown. Many people died, but though improvements in diet, sanitation and water purification, our immune systems were strengthened. For other pathogens vaccines were developed, and insecticides used to control mosquitoes. However, our fear of pathogens was eliminated only by antibiotics. By taking pills for a few days, we could quickly recover from most bacterial diseases.
For some pathogens, such as MRSA and Acinetobacter, physicians have turned to antibiotics abandoned decades ago because of toxic side effects. Several pathogens are close to becoming difficult to treat in some regions.
Examples of pathogens that have become extensively resistant are:
Acinetobacter baumanii (Pneumonia and wound infections) resistant to all common drugs available, and Klebsiella pneumoniae (Pneumonia) resistant to carbapenen, fluoroquinolones, amino glycosides and cephalosporins in hospitals in many countries.
Antibacterial Development Over the past 90 years, antibacterial discovery has gone from boom to bust. For about 30 years in the middle of the 20th century, pharmaceutical companies regularly churned out new classes of the drugs. Many of which doctors still use today, such as penicillin and the tetracyclines. However, by the 1980’s, discovery slowed …
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