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Antibiotic resistance

 What is antibiotic resistance and what causes it?

Antimicrobial resistance occurs when microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites) change when exposed to antimicrobial drugs (antibiotics, antifungals, antivirals, anthelmintics), developing resistance mechanisms to the effect of the drugs (superbugs). 

Antibiotic resistance

Since the discovery of penicillin by Dr. Fleming in 1928, when he noticed that some colonies of Staphylococcus aureus were destroyed by the growth and contamination of the penicillium fungus, antibiotic treatment has played a great role in the control of bacterial infections and has increased life expectancy. However, misuse or abuse of these drugs can have an undesirable effect. Therefore, antibiotics should be taken with caution so that they remain effective for as long as possible.

What is it?

Antibiotic resistance appears when antibiotics select resistant microorganisms and eliminate sensitive ones. Then, the drugs become less effective, infections persist in the body, and the risk of transmission to other people increases.

As established in 2016 by the WHO (World Health Organization), antibiotic resistance is a natural phenomenon, although misuse and abuse in humans and animals, select the process, and increases its occurrence. At the same time, this international institution recognized that "it is one of the greatest threats to world health", being able to affect any person, age, and country. Even, from the WHO it is admitted that there are more and more infections (pneumonia, tuberculosis...) whose treatment becomes more difficult due to the loss of effectiveness of antibiotics (prolonging the time of stay in hospital and increasing the mortality). It is even stated that the success of major surgery, organ transplants, or chemotherapy could be compromised by infections caused by resistant microorganisms.

What causes resistance?

Bacteria are everywhere and multiply rapidly. We have more bacteria in our body than human cells. They are not always harmful to our body, but in many cases we need them and they are beneficial, although if they grow they can end up causing infections.

Bacteria are programmed to survive: "adapt or die", and become superbugs. Resistant bacteria are found in humans, animals, food,... water, soil, and air. Their spread takes place between humans and between humans and animals and is currently greater due to the large movement of people worldwide. There are two fundamental types of resistance to antibiotics, the intrinsic (belonging to all members of a species) and the acquired (bacteria can suffer random mutations and are capable of transferring genetic information - in this case, antibiotic resistance - to other bacteria).

The selection of resistance by antibiotics is due to two main causes:

1.Abuse and misuse of antibiotics in humans and animals, as well as due to poor patient compliance. 
2. Excessive antibiotic prophylaxis.

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