Nicholas J. Ciotti
Nova Southeastern University
Professor A. Hirons
March 28, 2011
Antibiotic resistance is when microorganisms, such as bacteria, are able to survive an exposure to antibiotics and these bacteria are now resistant to the effects of these antibiotics. Antibiotic resistance in bacteria has been an issue since antibiotics were discovered. The fact that bacteria can become resistant to our medical treatments such as antibiotics is a natural evolutionary process, but there are certain human contributions that definitely speed up the process. For example, one of the main contributions that will be discussed is the problem of over prescription of the antibiotic drugs. The bacteria are constantly being exposed to the antibiotics and being forced to evolve at a high rate into resistant forms of the bacteria. If antibiotic resistance is a known problem then why are doctors still over prescribing antibiotics? There are definite obvious solutions to the problem such as cutting down on the unnecessary over prescription of these antibiotics, but there are also other precautions that need to be taken. Introduction
For more than 50 years, physicians worldwide have relied on antibiotics for rapid and effective management of many of the most common infections. Antibiotics have changed the way both doctors and the public perceive bacterial infections and their treatment. Doctors have been confronted with antibiotic resistance for as long as they have been using antibiotics (Stearns and Koella, 2008). Modern antibiotics basically began with penicillin. A British scientist discovered penicillin by the name of Alexander Fleming in 1928. It was not until 1942 that the British and Americans began mass-producing the drug. Its use became widespread during World War II, it became quite popular through its heavy public marketing. During this time penicillin was widely thought of as a miracle drug. People were amazed at the ability of antibiotics to cure illnesses overnight that had previously been known to be fatal. But the thoughts of invincibility and miracles were short lived. Fleming himself warned early on that the drug required careful dosing and those bacteria mutate quickly in response to exposure. In 1945, when Alexander Fleming accepted his Nobel Prize, he warned of bacterial resistance. His main concerns were about misuse of the drug. Specifically he worried about over prescription and under dosing. In the case of under dosing, a patient my not take enough of the drug to kill all the bacteria and the surviving ones become resistant and reproduce with a antibiotic resistant gene (Stivers, 2007).
As expected by Fleming, reports of penicillin resistance came within a year, and by 1945, a British hospital reported that nearly 8% of staphylococcal isolates were resistant to penicillin. Four years later, almost 60% of British clinical isolates were penicillin-resistant. Similar patterns occurred in the United States. And this is where a battle between antibiotic development and resistance evolution began (Stearns and Koella, 2008).
Move forward just 30 years to the early 1970s, and antibiotic resistance had already come to be considered a real public health threat. Strains of bacteria that cause meningitis and ear infections in children, and a strain that caused gonorrhea, once again proved fatal. Both had previously been treated successfully with penicillin. At present day, a little over 60 years since the beginning of large-scale antibiotic use, the problem of bacterial resistance to antibiotics is widely recognized as one of society’s biggest health threats. Bacterial resistance could pose a still larger problem soon because the manufacturing of new drugs has almost been at a standstill since 1968. Some theorists believe that we could be on the edge of an era where common illnesses, thought to be conquered already, could again be fatal....