When the Antibiotics Quit Working
It seems as though antibiotics are slowly losing the battle against infectious disease thus causing a greater demand for researchers to invent new antibiotics that have new mechanisms for killing microbes as well as new vaccines. The problem is that bacteria are becoming resistant to antibiotics. When bacteria are exposed to antibiotics they are under “selective pressure” that allows only resistant forms to survive and reproduce. Bacteria will build up a resistance to the antibiotics whether through spontaneous mutation, transformation, or resistance acquired from a small circle of DNA called a plasmid. There are many solutions to slow down the rise of resistance. Things that we can do are to not use antibiotics unnecessarily. This seems to be a huge problem. People tend to want to take antibiotics for colds and flu when in fact they do nothing for them as they are a virus. If you are prescribed antibiotics you should take them until the prescription is gone. If you start feeling better after a few days and discontinue taking the antibiotics the bacteria it was prescribed to fight is still present and starts to survive and multiply and begin to form a resistance to the antibiotic. Try the common antibiotics first and if they work stick with them. Improve infection control in hospitals. That can be done with ultraviolet lights, better sanitation, and putting patients with recalcitrant infections in isolation wards. We should also consider reducing the use of antibiotics in animal feeds. "There are real questions about whether we should be feeding antibiotics to animals and spraying them on fruit trees to prevent rot," says Abigail Salyers, a microbiologist at the University of Illinois. But what seems like a good idea is, she admits, not backed up by much evidence -- either way. Creating new vaccines will also help although the people...
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