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Antibiotics won the battle against resistant bacteria, but they may not win the war.
You probably know that antibiotic-resistant bacteria, also known as superbugs, have hampered physicians' ability to treat infections. You may also be aware that there has been a steep decline in the number of new antibiotics coming to market. Some headlines suggest humanity is doomed by antimicrobial resistance; even politicians and governments have weighed in, comparing rising antimicrobial resistance to other popular crises such as climate change. Although I believe these assertions are exaggerated, antimicrobial resistance is a serious problem.
Scientist - Specialty - Diseases - Role - Bacteria
I am a physician scientist with a specialty in infectious diseases. I have been fascinated by the role that bacteria play in human health, and the potential for using viruses to treat bacterial infections.
What causes antimicrobial resistance?
Factor - Resistance - Use - Antibiotics - US
One significant factor contributing to antimicrobial resistance is the excessive use of antibiotics. In the U.S., where antibiotics are widely available, some patients demand these drugs for many different illnesses. Many physicians appease their patients because they don't understand when and when not to use them and because there is no regulatory structure to limit their use. Anyone with a prescription pad can prescribe any antibiotic to treat any condition and rarely, if ever, face any consequences. There are some efforts to reduce antibiotic use, but the scope of the problem in the U.S. remains large.
Some countries, such as Sweden, use incentives to encourage doctors to improve antibiotic uses. But there is no counterpart for this system in U.S. hospitals and clinics.
Problem - Humans - Percent - Antibiotics - Animals
The problem goes beyond humans; 70 percent of all antibiotics are actually used on animals. This means that humans can be exposed to antibiotics by just handling animal products. The drumstick you are preparing for dinner might also have antibiotic-resistant bacteria tagging along.
Once antimicrobial resistance develops in a bacterium, it doesn't always...
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