Updated: Oct 22, 2019
Multi-resistant bacteria refers to bacterias who are resistant to antibiotics. A broader term is antimicrobial resistance which refer to the ability for a microbe to resist a treatment that was used to be effective. Perhaps you have heard and read that multi-resistant bacteria is causing huge problems. In this post I will explain why they cause huge problems. Let’s get started!
Why does multi-resistant bacteria exist? A bacterium can have several different resistance genes, each gene providing resistance to a specific antibiotic. The bacterial chromosome is made up of DNA and stores all the information a bacterium needs to carry out its functions. Not only this but bacteria can have small circles of DNA called plasmids that contain genes. These plasmids contain resistance genes. In a plasmid there can be genes that resist several antibiotics. Then these plasmids can be transferred to another bacteria making even more bacteria resistant. This
way resistance can spread really quickly. Unlike humans who needs to have children to pass off their genes, bacteria can exchange genes with each other. This is why multi-resistance is so dangerous. It can spread very quickly. Widespread abuse of antibiotics has lead to these multi-resistant bacteria arising.
How are multi-resistant bacteria spread? They spread by many different ways. Bacteria are easily spread due to lack of hygiene, lack of sanitation and lack of infection control. If one bacterium becomes successfully resistant to antibiotics, this resistance will spread quickly due to the globalised world we live in. By traveling, transporting food and other goods, human to human, animals to human and other factors these bacteria are spread.
What are the consequences of multi-resistant bacteria?
Truly the worst case scenario would be that no antibiotic is effective anymore. This would have enormous effects on the society. This can lead to a simple bacterial infection becoming life-threatening. A simple cut on your finger could lead to your death. This was in fact reality before Alexander Fleming had discovered antibiotics. People really died from a cut on their finger. But already now the world is suffering from antibiotic resistance. Just in the US at least 2 million became infected with multi-resistant bacteria and around 23 000 people died as a result every year.
The economic and welfare losses are enormous.
What can be done about it? By reading this blog post you have started to educate yourself on this issue. This issue is too complex to be squeezed into one blog post. WHO have put forward action plans to combat this problem. In short, the abuse of antibiotics needs to end as soon as possible.