By Hannah Schneekcloth
In the span of a year, there will be two million people in the United States that will be infected with a bacteria that has developed resistance to antibiotics. At least 23,000 will die from the infection each year. Some of the different types of bacterias are: Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Extended-spectrum Beta-lactamase (ESBL) producing Enterobacteriaceae, Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE), and two different types of drug resistant Salmonella, non-typhoidal and Serotype Typhi.
Antibiotic resistance means that bacteria that would have been neutralized by an antibiotic have become able to resist the antibiotic effects. With bacteria becoming resistant to lower doses and sometimes completely resistant to certain antibiotics, higher doses and more expensive treatments will have to be used to combat the infection. In addition, the recovery rate would be extended and more visits to the doctor would be required.
The discovery of antibiotics is credited to Dr. Alexander Fleming in 1928. He was not the neatest bacteriologist and left bits of bread on a petri dish containing bacteria that caused sore throats and noticed that on the dish with moldy bread the bacteria growth was was nonexistent in the areas that contained the mold. It then took 15 more years until bacteriologists were able to isolate penicillin from the mold and be able to produce it in large quantities. Years later, more antibiotics would be found or created, like methicillin, vancomycin, doxycycline, and amoxicillin.
Since the discovery of penicillin and other antibiotics, some bacteria have mutated to gain a resistance against some of the different antibiotics. We have partly been at fault for this. Antibiotics can be used to prevent infections after surgery, treat pneumonia, and fight off infections when people undergo chemotherapy. They do not work against colds, flus, other viruses, and even some infections go away without the aid of antibiotics. Antibiotics work by killing off bacteria, but when bacteria become resistant the antibiotics cannot kill it off, leaving behind all of the resistant bacteria. Irresponsible use of antibiotics only speeds up the rate at which bacteria become resistant to antibiotics and could lead to multidrug resistance in bacteria.
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus is a bacteria that over time has developed a resistance to many antibiotics such as methicillin and penicillin, and now there are rare cases of the bacteria being resistant to vancomycin. More commonly known as MRSA, this bacteria is known to cause impetigo (sores that commonly form around the mouth or nose), boils, or make the skin on your body feel painful. In 1968 the first reported case of MRSA was reported in the United States. MRSA is known to be contracted in hospitals and contact sports like wrestling or football.
How people respond to antibiotic resistance today will affect the future. If things progress and bacteria gain resistance to present day antibiotics before new antibiotics are created, a lot of things that are treated by a simple antibiotic have the chance to become dangerous. Things that were once easily treatable would be more dangerous and cause unneeded suffering for the infected. With bacteria constantly changing and becoming resistant to antibiotics, the smallest infections could easily become life threatening.
Sources: www.cdc.gov, www.fda.gov, www.pewtrust.org, www.niaid.nih.gov.
Hannah Schneekcloth is a student at Mabel-Canton High School. She is one of eight area students participating in the Journal Writing Project, now in its 20th year.