By Jodie Gummow
Since Alexander Fleming discovered the very first antibiotic, penicillin in 1928, antibiotics have become a revolutionary tool for fighting infectious diseases. For over 70 years, these drugs have greatly reduced illness and death and transformed medical care across the world.
Today, antibiotics are still vital in many instances and beneficial when prescribed and taken correctly. However, their widespread overuse and misuse has led to the creation of infectious organisms that have become resistant to the drugs, fueling a rapid increase in antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
According to a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control And Prevention at least 2 million people become infected with bacteria ever year that is resistant to antibiotics, and at least 23,000 people die as a direct result of those infections or from conditions complicated by the antibiotic-resistant infection.
Those who are infected with antimicrobial-resistant organisms are more likely to suffer from their illness for longer durations, require lengthier hospital care and are more susceptible to death because of the infection. Hence, antibiotic resistance not only places an economic burden on our entire health system but is considered to be one of the world’s most critical public health threats.
So, how does bacteria become resistant?
A recent CDC report explains that when bacteria are exposed to antibiotics over a period of time, they start to learn how to outsmart the drugs. Every time a person takes antibiotics, sensitive good bacteria in the body are killed off but the resistant germs are left to grow and ultimately multiply, creating superbugs. This in turn, leads to limited treatment options and can cause further dangerous bacterial infections that pose higher risks to human health.