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Antibiotic Resistant Staph Infections

Discussion in 'Issues Around the World' started by ethics, Nov 12, 2002.

  1. ethics

    ethics Pomp-Dumpster Staff Member

    There's a news update on a <a href="http://www.freep.com/news/health/nstaph12_20021112.htm">first case of antibiotic resistant staph infections</a>.

    The woman who has the infection is being kept up to 6 months in an isolation room.

    She is taking an antibiotic that is working, after many others did not. "In the scheme of public health threats, this has to rank close to the top," David Ropeik, director of risk communication at the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis, said of antibiotic resistance."
  2. Misu

    Misu Hey, I saw that.

    Doctor's are over-medicating us. Someone walks in with a cough and the sniffles, and the doctor hands out antibiotics - I've been handed anti-biotic samples at the dr's office. It was only a matter of time before stronger strains emerged - it's called evolution, only the strong shall survive and multiply.
  3. ShinyTop

    ShinyTop I know what is right or wrong!

    Over medicating is correct. But my wife hates to take pills so once the symptoms disappear she quits taking her antibiotics, the reason antibiotic resistant strains appear.
  4. Sunriser13

    Sunriser13 Knee Deep in Paradise

    I would also be surprised if the antibacterial soaps, dishwashing liquids, floor cleaners, laundry detergents, etc., along with the antibiotics we ingest from meats, milk, and eggs (the animals are fed massive amounts) didn't contribute highly to resistant strains of many types of bacteria.

    Doctors are definitely a factor, as many will prescribe an antibiotic even for viral infections, which are not affected by any antibiotic. However, in their defense, it is usually the patient who demands it, succumbing to the rationale that antibiotics are a cure-all miracle drug. The patient usually does not understand that the only reason an antibiotic is needed for a cold or flu, for example, is to defeat a secondary bacterial infection. The jury is still out on the prophylactic use of antibiotics to <i>prevent</i> bacterial infection, with some doctors giving them and others being more cautious.

    Shiny, you are absolutely correct as well. There is a good reason the instructions tell you not to stop taking the medication as soon as the symptoms disappear. Just because you feel better does not mean the bugs are completely out of your system. Antibiotics should always be taken until the prescribed amount is fully consumed.
  5. EMIG

    EMIG Yup

    Antibiotic resistance is not as big a problem as most people think.

    Antibiotics work by interfering with some fundamental biochemical process. Some bacterica have genetic defects in that process that have the side effect of making them immune to the antibiotic. But the down side is the mutant bacteria will be less hardy than their wildtype counterparts. For example, Penicillin works by interfering with the chemical process that produces the bacterial cell wall. Penicillin-resistant strains have weaker cell walls, and grow more slowly. If you put wildtype and antibiotic-resistant bacteria (of the same species) side by side in a petri dish, you'll have only wildtype bacteria after a short while.

    This effect is magnified by having more resistant mutations, i.e. a mutant that is resistant to two antibiotics grows more slowly than a strain with just one antibiotic resistance and so on.

    I actually tried this in a graduate-level lab I took in college. We engineered a strain that had 3 or 4 resistances (I forget exactly how many). That strain only managed to survive in the medium where all three antibiotcs were present. It was outcompeted in every other case either by the wildtype or by strains with fewer resistances.

    There are several important ramifications. Firstly, a "super bug" is extremey unlikely to emerge. It may in time, but it would take evolution hundreds of thousands of years to come up with one. The chances our technology will be able to keep up on this time scale are excellent.

    Secondly, antibiotic-resistant strains are dependent on the existence of humans. They are outcompeted by the wildtype in the absence of anitbiotics. Most healthy humans' autoimmune systems should be able to fight off mutants with a single antibiotic resistance. All healthy human autoimmune systems are definitely capable of fighting off strains with multiple antibiotic-resistance mutations.

    There is just one place where both antibiotics and sick people are abundant. The hospital is the environment for antibiotic resistant bacteria to thrive. Furthermore, our enlightened hospital administrations have reacted to shrinking budgets by cutting back on housekeeping staff. There is an emerging problem with infectious disease in our country, but antibiotic resistant bacteria are only part of the story.

    Misu: Disinfectants and detergents kill bacteria in a different way. They attack the basic chemistry of all living things, and therefore it's not possible for resistance to emerge in a human timescale. These substances don't have therapeutic value 'cause you can't ingest them. They kill humans just as effectively as they kill bacteria
  6. ethics

    ethics Pomp-Dumpster Staff Member

    Great posts, everyone. Never knew this thread would take such a wonderful turn.

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