Antibiotics Resistance – A New Pandemic?


Antibiotics are the form of drugs used to kill the dangerous microbes which cause infection. Nowadays those microbes are getting stronger and more dangerous for humans. Before jumping into technicalities we should first understand what is antibiotics resistance?

Antibiotics resistance is the ability of pathogenic microorganisms to develop resistance against antimicrobial drugs that were sensitive earlier. Antibiotics resident microbes are difficult to treat as higher doses or new drugs needs to be used for the inhibition of pathogens. Generally higher doses of drugs are toxic to the body. There are many microbes that are resistant to many antibiotic drugs. Also, some microbes developed resistance against the new generation of drugs which are also called extensive or extreme drug-resistant pathogen. All the classes of microbes can develop antimicrobial resistance which includes bacteria, fungi, viruses, protozoa, etc.

Historical Background of Antimicrobial Resistance

In 1928, Alexander Fleming mistakenly discovered penicillin (antibiotic) which is considered a revolutionary work in the field of medical science. Later several other antibiotics were discovered which made possible the treatment of previously incurable diseases. Those new antibiotics saved millions of lives by curing diseases like tuberculosis and syphilis. The 1950s to 1970s period is considered the golden age of antibiotics since many new antibiotics discovered.

In 1945 Alexander Fleming said “The time may come when penicillin can be bought by anyone in the shops. Then there is the danger that the ignorant man may easily under-dose himself and by exposing his microbes to none lethal quantities of the drug make them resistant “. That prediction is kind of becoming true. Certainly, the main cause of antimicrobial resistance is the misuse of drugs.


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The major cause of antimicrobial resistance is the misuse of antimicrobials drugs. The use of antimicrobial agents in a variety of ways both within the healthcare production and outside of it – has led to antimicrobial resistance becoming more common.

Antimicrobial resistance can arise as an evolutionary adaptation to continuous exposure to antimicrobial drugs. That’s the reason why many resistant microbes survive over time and become more prevalent in the environment. Also, there is an interesting phenomenon called “horizontal gene transfer”, which is specifically seen in bacteria. It is a natural process in which bacteria share their genetic information with other bacteria. Most importantly the sharing of resistance for particular antimicrobial takes place. The increased use of antibiotics also increased the risk of antibiotics resistance.

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People also consume antibiotic drugs without consulting a medical professional to cure their illness. Many people resort to this out of need, when they have a limited amount of cash to see a doctor or in many developing countries a poorly developed economy. Also, sometimes lack of doctors is the cause of self-medication. In developing countries the government resort to allow the sale of antibiotics as over the counter medications so people could have access to them without finding or pay to see a doctor. This increased and easy access to antibiotics is the main reason for developing antibiotics resistance.

Clinical misuse by a health professional is another cause of antibiotic resistance. A study done by the CDC showed that the choice of the antimicrobial agent used, and the duration of therapy was incorrect in up to 50% of the cases studied. In another study done in an intensive care unit in a major hospital in France, it was shown that 30% to 60% of prescribed antibiotics were unnecessary. This unnecessary use of antibiotic drugs leads to the development of antibiotic drug resistance. Many studies had Proved that medical practitioners underestimate the impact their prescribing habits have on antibiotic resistance as a whole.

The food industry also causes antibiotic resistance specifically in food-producing animals. Many antibiotics are given to animals for the prevention of various infections. Even many times antibiotics are fed as growth supplements which becomes a reason for antibiotics resistance. It leads to the transfer of dangerous resistant bacteria to humans via food which human eat.

What Can Be Done?

Antibiotics resistance is accelerated by misusing or poor control of various types of infections. There are some steps that can reduce the risk of antimicrobial resistance.

At a  Personal Level

Asking your doctor about the antibiotics they prescribe and know the possible side effects. Not all the infection needs antibiotics. Discuss the dosage and period necessary to cure infection with a health professional. Your health professional is not suggesting any antibiotics then don’t ask for it. Follow whatever they suggest and consult medical practitioners before consuming any antibiotics.

Every second, millions of microbes come in contact with us, to avoid infection it is necessary to wash hands regularly. This simple habit can protect us from many infections. Last but not least is getting proper vaccines on time. Avoiding infections can lead to a decrease in antibiotic consumption and all other side effect related to it.

At the Health Care Level

Medical professionals must understand the risk behind antibiotics resistance and prescribe proper antibiotics if necessary, as per the guidelines. A medical professional should talk to patients about the danger of misuse of antibiotics and how should take antibiotics correctly. Maintaining proper sanitary conditions can greatly prevent infection.

In the Agriculture and Food Industry

Vaccinate animals on time can reduce the risk of infection and the need for antibiotics. Never use any antibiotic for betterment in growth as well as prevention of infection for a healthy animal. Give antibiotics as per if needed and as per the suggestions of medical professionals. Try to maintain good practices at all steps of production and processing of foods.

The Big Picture

The problem of antibiotic drug resistance seems very simple but it’s not. Scientists estimated that 7,00,000 people die each year as a result of antibiotic drug-resistant disease. This number can rise to 10 million deaths per year by the year 2050. Many infections that could be cured with simple drugs are now getting extremely resistant.

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Discovering new antibiotics is a very complicated process and it takes a lot of time. Also use of new and powerful antibiotics is not the ideal way to handle this problem. We have to address this problem at a very basic level. That means rapidly improving sanitation, water quality on a global scale, especially in developing countries. Proper awareness in medical professionals and normal peoples needs to attain. Otherwise, antibiotic resistance will continue to increase, potentially creating the next pandemic.