Antibiotic Resistance, Cause for Much Concern

In two articles featured in the Journal of the American Medical Association and in the New England Journal of Medicine, comes disturbing news of strains of the dangerous Staphylococcus aureus bacteria now resistant to the antibiotics used to kill them. In two cases in the United States strains of this bacteria have been identified that no longer responds to antibiotic treatment. It is reported that the “General overuse of antibiotics has allowed S. aureus to develop mutations rendering it resistant to many of these drugs.

In a related study at the University of Washington, Seattle, more than 4000 females were tested for the prevalence and trends of antibiotic resistant bacteria. The results showed a more than 20% resistance against several antibiotics for E. coli and several other bacteria. When several of the bacteria were tested from 1992 to 1996 it was noted that the rate of resistance to the most commonly used antibiotic doubled over that period of time. Resistance to less commonly used antibiotics did not change as dramatically. This indicates, as was reported in the JAMA article, that bacteria will become resistant more readily to regularly used antibiotics. This trend will continue to limit antibiotic choices for fighting infections. In a growing number of cases, patients with certain infections have been faced with the reality of having no antibiotics effective in the treatment of their infections.

Dr. Francis Waldvogel of the University Hospital in Geneva Switzerland noted that with “each new antibiotic that is introduced, several escape mechanisms are soon devised.” He concluded we will, “need the strategic powers of a Julius Caesar to conduct a major war against the misuse of antibiotics.”