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Antibiotic resistance - the continuing threat to human health remains potent

Research from The Economist rates the most common biological threats
The 20th Century was a period of considerable advancement in medical science, not the least due to the development of effective treatment regimes of antibiotics to both treat disease and to provide a range of protective measures as a almost routine part of Surgical Procedures. In the 21st Century, this appears to be progressively unravelling.

Increasingly multi-drug resistant and extensively drug resistant  strains of  bacteria are materialising outside of the hospital systems where they already pose a direct threat to patient health and safety. In the United States, the Centres for Disease Control (CDC) produced a list of 18 of the drug-resistant microbes which threaten human health three years ago (as displayed above). Yet progress with new forms of drugs to counteract this threat is painfully slow.  Commonly referred to as 'superbugs', these new generation bacteria pose a threat for surgical procedures such as hip replacements and increasingly for patients with suppressed immune systems due to cancer chemotherapies or organ transplants. The risk is also tangible for Caesarean sections in childbirth. 

The impact of drug resistant bacteria is measurably high. Cases of sepsis in the United States almost doubled from 2000 to 2008  due to the emergence of MRSA, a variety of  Staphyloccus aureas. It cannot be killed by methicillin, one of the most potent current versions of penicillin. MRSA is a major  problem in Australian hospitals and can be just as lethal. Neisseria gonorrhoeae is another bacteria which has now developed resistance to penicillin, tetracyclines, fluoroquinolones, cephalosporins. The only treatment option necessitates the use of a combination of ceftriaxone, a cephalospoorin and an azaline to have any effect.

So what are the causes of superbugs ? The primary reasons are twofold: overprescription or inappropriate prescription of drugs for patients who have a condition which either does not require this level of intervention or will not respond to it (poor use of the drugs by not following the required regime is a related problem); and misuse of antibiotics by farmers for animal husbandry which eventually leads to the drugs entering watercourses and into the soil.

The solutions are simple involving predominantly changes in practice and behaviour both in the health sector (clincians and patients) and in primary industries for the animal husbandry methods used by farmers. Old habits remain hard to break but without resolute action at this point and the time taken to find new therapies, the medium to long future is looking much bleaker.

The link to the article is below:
The Economist - When the drugs don't work


This post first appeared on Sentinel Owl, please read the originial post: here

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Antibiotic resistance - the continuing threat to human health remains potent

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