• Enid Gonzalez-Orta

Bacteria are everywhere! by Hector N.

Updated: May 12

Bacteria are everywhere, they are too small for our naked eye to see and comes in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and types. Although only a small amount of the bacteria cause disease, their effect can be tremendous (Doron & Gorbach, 2008). So much so, that bacterial infections are actually among the top causes of mortality in the world (Doron & Gorbach, 2008). The overwhelming majority of people have gotten sick due to bacterial infections. If the bacterial infections are severe enough, treatment is needed. This is where antibiotics enter the picture. Antibiotics are chemicals that are used to either kill or prevent infections caused by bacteria (Ventola, 2015). Good antibiotics work by targeting something that bacteria have, but people or animals lack. This way, they can get rid of the infection with minimal harm to people. Since their discovery, antibiotics have saved the lives of millions of people and allowed the development of many types of advanced surgeries (Ventola, 2015).

A student at his lab bench
Hector N at his lab bench

Before antibiotics, bacterial infections used to be much more unmanageable. Due to the misuse and overuse of antibiotics, we are entering a pre-antibiotic-like era (Ventola, 2015). Bacteria adapt to their surroundings through the process of evolution. When bacteria develop the ability to overcome the drugs designed to kill them, it is known as antibiotic resistance (About antibiotic resistance, 2020). Once antibiotic-resistant, bacteria become more difficult to treat. (About antibiotic resistance, 2020). This problem has become so severe, it is now known as the antibiotic resistance crisis.

Studies have demonstrated that there is a direct correlation between antibiotic consumption and emerging resistant bacteria. This means that the more antibiotics used, the more antibiotic resistance emerges, and therefore a rise in untreatable bacterial infections resulting in a rise in deaths (Ventola, 2015). Other contributing factors include the lack of discovery and development of new antibiotics and the misuse of antibiotics.

One way to mitigate this crisis is through proper antibiotic stewardship. Antibiotic stewardship is an outlined effort that promotes the proper way to use antibiotics (Hyun, 2019). In clinical settings, this requires doctors only prescribing antibiotics, using the right dose, drug, duration, and most importantly when necessary (Hyun, 2019). In the public side of things, antibiotic stewardship means taking the antibiotics as prescribed, as well as not prematurely stopping, due to symptoms improving. These small changes help in combatting the antibiotic resistance crisis.

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