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HOW DOES A BACTERIA BECOME A SUPERBUG?



  Jun 24, 2024

HOW DOES A BACTERIA BECOME A SUPERBUG?



UNDERSTANDING SUPERBUGS

Bacteria that have acquired resistance to antibiotics are known as superbugs. This resistance arises from the overuse of antibiotics in humans and livestock. The more bacteria are exposed to antibiotics, the higher the chances they have to evolve resistance.

WHERE DO WE USE ANTIBIOTICS AND HOW DOES IT AFFECT US?

Antibiotics have been pivotal in revolutionizing public health since Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin in 1928. They prevent fatalities from diseases such as cholera, typhoid, pneumonia, and syphilis. However, overconsumption and overprescription of antibiotics have led to increased microbial resistance, especially in countries with high antibiotic usage. Between 2000 and 2018, antibiotic use grew by 46%, with developing nations seeing a 76% increase.

ANTIBIOTICS AND LIVESTOCK

Antibiotics are used extensively in livestock to prevent disease and promote growth. In developed countries, 50-80% of antibiotics sold go to livestock. Resistant bacteria from livestock can enter the environment through waste or meat, eventually making their way to humans and causing disease.

THE HOSPITAL SUPERBUG MRSA

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) became a notable superbug in hospitals. Initially responsive to penicillin, S. aureus developed resistance by the 1950s. Methicillin was introduced in 1960, but MRSA strains emerged by the late 1960s and spread globally by the 1980s. MRSA can cause severe infections, including pneumonia and bloodstream infections.

DETRIMENTAL EFFECTS ON GUT MICROBIOME

The human gut microbiome, composed of about 40 trillion bacterial and 30 trillion human cells, plays a vital role in physiological functions, vitamin production, and immune system support. Overuse of broad-spectrum antibiotics can disrupt this microbiome, reducing microbial diversity and increasing susceptibility to pathogenic infections, leading to systemic infections, chronic diarrhea, and inflammation.

ADDRESSING ANTIBIOTIC RESISTANCE

Antibiotic resistance was linked to approximately 5 million deaths worldwide in 2019. Solutions to combat this include:

1. Bacteriophages: These viruses attack and kill specific bacteria, offering targeted treatment without broad-spectrum effects.
2. One Health Approach: This strategy addresses human, animal, and environmental health sectors to manage antibiotic use, observe antimicrobial resistance (AMR), and contain infections.

By implementing these solutions and regulating antibiotic use, we can mitigate the rise of superbugs and protect public health.


SRIRAM’S
 
 


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