5 Strategies for Combating the Threat of Antibiotic Resistance

One of the biggest problems in 21st century western medicine is the growing threat of antibiotic resistance in bacteria and other microorganisms. Drug-resistant microorganisms can spread rapidly, and some bacteria can even share mutated, drug-resistant genes within living members of a population. If resistance were ever to become the rule, rather than the exception, a wide range of surgeries and other medical practices would no longer be safe to perform. Previously vanquished diseases would once again threaten huge swathes of the population. The ripple effect on our modern lifestyle, and on the future of medicine, would be profound.

Below are five strategies currently being employed to combat antibiotic resistance. This is important information for everyone alive today. Don’t forget to read more about what you can do to help prevent this growing threat from spreading further.

Furthering the Development of New Antibiotics and Vaccines

In the past, vaccines against bacterial infections fell out of favor with the public because of the existence of antibiotics. Today, efforts are being stepped up to educate the public on why it is important to vaccinate against bacterial disease, as well as viral and other microbial conditions. In addition, new initiatives are being proposed which will encourage the development of new antibiotics within the pharmaceutical industry, advocating on the strength of their being urgently needed. New methods of research and development are being explored, to help reduce the cost of developing and fielding a new antibiotic.

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Stopping Antibiotics Regimens for Farm Animals

Today, livestock in America and around the world is widely dosed with antibiotic regimens, including antibiotics which are needed to treat illnesses in people. This practice does not rely on the presence of sickness; it is used as an inoculation, which is not how antibiotics are meant to be deployed. Because of the way farm animals are kept, the effectiveness of these antibiotics for their intended purpose is greatly reduced. At the same time, this contributes to the development of resistant bacteria, which subsequently makes the antibiotics less effective in human populations. Today, this practice is slowly being scaled down, and new solutions are being presented to help combat illnesses in farm animals.

Reducing Reliance on Antibiotics

In years past, it was not uncommon to see antibiotics used frivolously, even in hospital settings. Antibiotic products were used to cover for situations which could have been addressed in other ways, such as through more strict hygienic practices and better regulation and tracking of antibiotic usage. Ultimately, we will never be free of our need for antibiotics, but better management and administrative strategies in tracking antibiotic use and the spread of resistant organisms will help to curtail irresponsible behaviors in the future.

Deploying Bacteria-resistant Materials

Since ancient times, humans have understood that exposure to certain materials made them less likely to contract infectious diseases, long before the nature of those diseases was understood in detail. This led to the ritual importance of materials like copper, which has natural, physical properties that cause it to kill even MRSA and other antibiotic-resistant microorganisms. Ancient surgical tools were made of copper, and modern hospitals are starting to use copper in locations which classically contribute to the spread of hospital-borne infections, such as sinks and door handles.

Educating the Public

Medical professionals and educators have a responsibility to inform the public about the nature of the threat posed by disease-causing organisms which resist antibiotics. They also need to educate people on how to slow the progress of this growing problem, by explaining the role which certain common practices have in expanding its scope. Many people are unaware of the full import of actions such as not completing an antibiotics regimen, or of using leftover or expired antibiotics to treat colds and other minor ailments for which they were not prescribed.

In addition to the CDC, there are other organizations offering resources online which provide information about the spread of antibiotic-resistant diseases. The World Health Organization (WHO) recently published a list of bacteria for which new antibiotics are urgently needed. Only together, through professional efforts and responsible patient behavior, will the growing threat of antibiotic resistance in disease-causing microorganisms be successfully contained.