• Enid Gonzalez-Orta

The Antibiotic Resistance Crisis by Abdulla A.

Abdulla in the Lab

Perhaps one of the greatest accomplishments of science was the discovery of Antibiotics. Antibiotics are a class of chemical molecules that are designed, discovered or both! Antibiotics recognize and target specific structures that are vital and unique to microbial replication, on the little microbes that cause disease, thus killing them and leaving us healthy (Lopez). However, these microbes are tiny but mighty!

When we go to the gym and we start weightlifting, after a while, the same exercise routine stops becoming effective and our muscles require more resistance (weights) to make the same amount of progress. Just like we need to and do keep increasing weight resistance to grow after being exposed to exercise, microbes need to, and do, increase their antibiotic resistance after being exposed to antibiotics to grow. Except, because of their tiny size, high rates of reproduction, and the multiple methods that they can use to share information with each other, the mighty microbes can adapt to even the harshest environments, in extremely short periods of time (Lopez).

To show how quickly these microbes can adapt, scientists designed an experiment where they grew bacteria on a mega plate with different antibiotic concentrations across the plate starting from zero. In just 11 days, the microbes were able to increase their resistance X100,000 fold (Baym, M.)! Can you imagine increasing your bench press a hundred thousand-fold in just under two weeks, or in fact, ever? Tiny but mighty microbes!

To make things worse, we humans are actively increasing antimicrobial resistance by using antibiotics when they are not needed. Out of the +150 million antibiotic prescriptions prescribed yearly in the USA, 1 in 3 of those is not needed (Tedijanto, C). When we expose more bacteria to antibiotics when not needed, we are likely to get more antibiotic-resistant bacteria and in turn, more resistant infections. Every year in the USA alone, 3 million antibiotic-resistant infections occur and 48,000 deaths because of infection. (CDC, 2019, p.7)

Many organizations are trying to combat the antibiotic resistance crisis in multiple ways through a program called: Antibiotic stewardship. The program focuses on tracking and reporting antibiotic use, holding hospitals accountable for antibiotic use, and educating the public and healthcare workers about the antibiotic resistance crisis. The program has been highly successful and has saved plenty of lives and money. To learn more details about the antibiotic stewardship program, please check out:



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