Antibiotic Resistance | Health | Biology | FuseSchool
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Narration: Dale Bennett
Script: Annika Hilgert
You probably have heard of "antibiotic resistance" before, but most people don’t realize that it’s actually the bacteria that become resistant to the antibiotics, not humans or animals.
Antibiotics are a type of medicine that are used to treat and prevent bacterial infections, by inhibiting certain metabolic or chemical processes, which occur inside the bacteria. They only work on bacterial infections and are very important for public health.
Antibiotic resistance happens when antibiotics cannot interrupt the bacteria's life cycle successfully anymore, and so bacterial infections become harder and harder to treat.
When you take a dose of antibiotics, there will be some bacteria in the population that remain unaffected by the treatment because of their genes. These bacteria are said to be resistant. The antibiotics cannot kill them.
These resistant bacteria then reproduce, passing their resistance on to their offspring. Whole new populations of bacteria are created that are unaffected by antibiotics, meaning there are bacterial infections and diseases which cannot be treated by antibiotics.
It becomes very difficult to treat infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Alternative treatments are often less effective and more expensive. It’s a global threat. It affects anyone, of any age, in any country. Without urgent action, the world could be headed for a "post-antibiotic era", in which common infections and minor injuries which have been treatable for decades can once again kill.
And the amazing benefits of advanced modern medical treatments, such as chemotherapy and major surgery, will be lost. In some aspects, we’ll be rewinding medicine by 100 years.
Resistant bacteria would naturally evolve anyway. Survival of the fittest means the resistant bacteria survive and reproduce, but the spread has been sped up by our misuse of antibiotics.
The current global antibiotic resistance crisis is the result of six factors:
(1) If antibiotics are wrongly prescribed for viral infections or for weak infections that the individual could naturally fight off without medication, bacteria are then being exposed unnecessarily to antibiotics. And so the dreaded resistance ones evolve and breed.
(2) Don’t expect antibiotics to help you if you have a cold of the flu. They are viral. Even if you feel better, you must finish your full course. The full course kills off as many bacteria as possible.
(3) Antibiotics aren’t just used in humans. Since 2006, the EU has banned antibiotics use to promote growth or prevent infections in healthy animals. Some other countries have also followed suit, but many more haven’t yet. They need to.
Together, we can reduce the impact of the spreading antibiotic resistance. By changing how we produce, prescribe and use antibiotics, we can limit the spread of antibiotic resistance. Complete your full course, and don’t think antibiotics will cure everything. Careful prescription, and educate your patients. Keep researching for new antibiotics and other alternatives. Regulate the use and educate the public. Only use antibiotics on sick animals, with a vet’s prescription.
So that is why people are concerned about antibiotic resistance. It makes the treatment of some diseases much more difficult, but we can all do our part to slow the spread.
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