Antibiotic Resistance Introduction
The Institute of Medicine has identified antibiotic resistance as one of the key microbial threats to human health. Since the advent of antibiotic therapy, millions of lives have been saved as a result. However, emergence of antibiotic resistance threatens to make many infectious diseases untreatable.
Antibiotic resistance is a problem in all health care settings, including long-term care facilities. Each year, approximately 250,000 residents of long-term care facilities develop infections. 27,000 of these infections are resistant to at least one class of antibiotics commonly used to treat them.
Residents of long-term care facilities are prone to antibiotic resistant infections for a number of reasons:
Antibiotic Resistance Introduction - Part 2
In the past 60 years, antibiotics have been critical in the fight against infectious disease caused by bacteria and other microbes. Antimicrobial chemotherapy has been a leading cause for the dramatic rise of average life expectancy in the Twentieth Century. However, disease-causing microbes that have become resistant to antibiotic drug therapy are an increasing public health problem. Wound infections, gonorrhea, tuberculosis, pneumonia, septicemia and childhood ear infections are just a few of the diseases that have become hard to treat with antibiotics. One part of the problem is that bacteria and other microbes that cause infections are remarkably resilient and have developed several ways to resist antibiotics and other antimicrobial drugs. Another part of the problem is due to increasing use, and misuse, of existing antibiotics in human and veterinary medicine and in agriculture.
In 1998, in the United States, 80 million prescriptions of antibiotics for human use were filled. This equals 12,500 tons in one year. Animal and agricultural uses of antibiotics are added to human use. Agricultural practices account for over 60% of antibiotic usage in the U.S., so this adds an additional 18,000 tons per year to the antibiotic burden in the environment.
Nowadays, about 70 percent of the bacteria that cause infections in hospitals are resistant to at least one of the drugs most commonly used for treatment. Some organisms are resistant to all approved antibiotics and can only be treated with experimental and potentially toxic drugs. An alarming increase in resistance of bacteria that cause community acquired infections has also been documented, especially in the staphylococci and pneumococci (Streptococcus pneumoniae), which are prevalent causes of disease and mortality. In a recent study, 25% of bacterial pneumonia cases were shown to be resistant to penicillin, and an additional 25% of cases were resistant to more than one antibiotic.
Microbial development of resistance, as well as economic incentives, has resulted in research and development in the search for new antibiotics in order to maintain a pool of effective drugs at all times. While the development of resistant strains is inevitable, the slack ways that we administer and use antibiotics has greatly exacerbated the process.
Unless antibiotic resistance problems are detected as they emerge, and actions are taken immediately to contain them, society could be faced with previously treatable diseases that have become again untreatable, as in the days before antibiotics were developed.