Deadly, Drug-Resistant ‘Superbugs’ Pose Huge Threat, W.H.O. Says
Feb 27, 2017, The New York Times
Summary: Superbugs, or antibiotic resistant microbes, have been declared a threat to human health by the World Health Organization. They kill approximately 25,000 Europeans and 23,000 Americans each year. The victims are usually patients who are either older or have some form of immunosuppression. As antibiotic use has emerged in medicine over the past 100 years, so has antibiotic resistance. Different antibiotic resistant strains of microbes can be restricted to certain geographic locations or even to particular hospitals. However, with air travel becoming more frequent and widespread there is a tendency that these strains will spread throughout the world.
Connections: Antibiotic resistance develops as microbes are exposed to antibiotics and spreads rapidly among microbial populations via plasmids. As we expose pathogenic microbes to antibiotics, those with resistance are selected for, which means that we must continually monitor antibiotic use so that resistance does not become too widespread.
Critical Analysis: I thought that it was very interesting that the World Health Organization has highlighted antibiotic resistance as a threat to global human health. There is a certain degree of social responsibility that comes with prescribing antibiotics to patients. Every time a pathogen is exposed to an antibiotic, it is possible that resistance will emerge. In addition, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find new antibiotics since they rely heavily on exploring mechanisms in the microbes that are different from the host. Eventually it will become more difficult to indemnify these mechanisms and antibiotic treatments may be less beneficial to hosts.
Question: How prevalent are MRSA infections in the US? Is there anything that we can do to prevent their proliferation?