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Health & Safety

Antibiotic Resistance

BacteriaAntibiotic resistance refers to a bacterium's insensitivity to the effects of an antibiotic. This resistance enables the bacteria to survive as well as reproduce, thereby causing health problems to the body.

Antibiotic resistance is brought about by the process of mutation in the bacteria. The resistance develops gradually through natural selection, whereby some of the bacteria mutate and become unaffected by the antibiotic drug. Unlike vaccines, which stimulate the body's defenses, antibiotics function discretely, and they are more prone to bacterial resistance.

The mutated bacteria survive the effects of the antibiotic, and they will go on to transfer the gene information horizontally through the process of plasmid exchange. As a result, the next generation of bacteria becomes a fully-resistant generation. Certain bacteria can carry a high number of resistant genes, and such bacteria or micro-organisms are referred to as 'Superbugs'. Researchers have also found out recently that the bacterial protein LexA is the primary contributor to bacterial mutations. It is possible to introduce antibiotic resistance artificially, by implanting artificial genes into the bacteria through transformation protocols.

Four of the major mechanisms that contribute to the development of antibiotic resistance are drug inactivation where penicillin resistant bacteria deactivate Penicillin-G, changing of the target site or PBP alteration, metabolic pathway alteration, and reduction of drug accumulation by the bacteria. A few of the deadliest antibiotic resistant pathogens that are in existence today are Acinetobacter baumannii, Staphylococcus aureus (Staph infection) , Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Streptococcus, Enterococcus, and Clostridium difficile.

Several medical studies and tests have shown that excessive usage of antibiotics promotes the growth of mutated genes in micro-organisms that are antibiotic resistant. Overuse of certain antibiotic drugs such as ampicillin and cephalosporin speeds up the antibiotic resistance of bacteria too. Some other major factors include the unnecessary use of antibiotics, misdiagnosis, and the addition of antibiotics to livestock food for growth promotion.

One of the preventive measures that are considered effective in reducing the chances of bacterial infection is washing hands regularly. This will prevent the spreading of the infection. Refraining from certain foods like raw fruits, vegetables, and eggs, as well as undercooked fish and meat will also help prevent bacterial infection. You should also try not to share gym equipment and personal items such as cosmetics and bedding. Unprotected sex and even obesity can also increase the chances of bacterial infection. It is advisable that you get an affordable family health insurance, so that you can claim relief on medical expenses in case you are infected.

The resistance problem has taken on such alarming proportions that physicians have started doubting the efficacy of many of the antibiotic drugs that are prevalent today. Nowadays, many doctors recommend patients to have an affordable health insurance, since bacterial infections are rife. New efforts are also being made by governments and researchers to deal with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. Genetic engineering is a way of countering antibiotic resistance that is gaining ground. This method only permits bacteria that can be manipulated by the engineers to pass, when the bacteria replicate. Some of the common antibiotics that are used in genetic engineering are tetracycline, ampicillin, kanamycin, and chloramphenicol. Generally, engineers prefer to use older antibiotics that are no longer used clinically. Another technique that is increasingly being used to fight antibiotic resistance is the utilization of bioactive phytochemicals in plants.

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