Conquering the Antibiotic-Resistant Superbugs
Since its discovery in 1928 by the Scottish scientist named Sir Ian Fleming, doctors have been prescribing penicillin to patients for the cure of everything from minor infections to life-threatening diseases. In medical terms, penicillin is classified as an antibiotic. An antibiotic is a chemical compound that inhibits or abolishes the growth of microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, or protozoa. Over 100 different antibiotics are now available in the market. Although antibiotics are useful in a wide variety of infections, it is important to note that antibiotics only treat bacterial infections.
Perhaps, if he were alive today, it would surprise Sir Fleming to discover that the organisms that were wiped out by the first generation of penicillin that he developed had somehow made a comeback. Through research and disease surveillance, doctors and researchers have found that certain organisms were able to evolve and adapt defenses to some antibiotics. Once thought to have been “conquered” by penicillin, some strains of germs and other harmful organisms have become resistant to antibiotic. These organisms on the rebound have been called by scientists and other experts from the medical community as “superbugs.”
Antibiotic resistance is the ability of a microorganism to withstand the effects of an antibiotic. It is a specific type of drug resistance. Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria change and adapt to the action or chemical effects of a drug that is designed to cure or prevent infections. Once the bacteria adapts and survives the onslaught of the drug, it is able to develop resistance and continue its harmful reproduction inside a host.
MRSA or Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus is one among a number of organisms that have been found to be resistant to commonly used antibiotics. It is classified as a staph bacteria that triggers infections that could worsen into a life-threatening condition. Methicillin was an antibiotic used many years ago to treat patients with Staphylococcus Aureus infections. However, today, it is no longer used except as a means of identifying this particular type of antibiotic resistance.
Experts say that the MRSA superbug can cause pneumonia and serious bone and skin infections. It had already claimed the lives of infected children who did not receive adequate medication and health care. It also been reported that MRSA can rapidly multiply and infect people in close physical contact with other people. People who are frequently in crowded places like day care centers, prison cells, and other cramped areas are at high risk for infections.
An individual could become a carrier of MRSA in the same way that they can become a carrier of ordinary Staphylococcus aureus. Infection is spread through physical contact with an infection person. If the infectious organism is on the skin, then it can also be passed around via skin-to-skin contact. If the organism is in the nose or has infected the lungs, it may be spread via droplets spread from the mouth and nose during sneezing or contact with an infected person’s saliva. Resistance of infectious organisms can be tested through the use clinical implements and chemicals. This test is usually done over a period of two to three days to determine the level of resistance of an organism to antibiotics.
Superbugs organisms are often associated with patients in hospitals but can also be found on patients not in a hospital. It is not necessary to do anything about MRSA organisms. However, if these superbugs are passed on to someone who is already ill, then a more serious infection may occur to that person. When patients with MRSA are discovered in a hospital, the hospital will usually try to prevent it from passing around to other patients. This measure is known as infection control.
The type of infection control or isolation required for any patient depends on the organism. It usually rests on where the organisms is found on an individual and the patient. Contact Isolation is the most important type of isolation required for MRSA. This requires everyone in contact with the patient to be very careful about hand washing after touching either the patient or anything that came to contact with the patient. Cleaning of surfaces are also important since dust and surfaces can become contaminated with the organism. This is usually done when the patient leaves the hospital.
However, though it seems like these superbugs are extremely powerful, if a patient is given multiple antibiotics, they can be fought off. One of the lifesaving drugs that is said to combat MRSA is vancomycin. Vancomycin has been reserved by hospitals as the drug of last resort. Experts said that this medicine may cause some serious side effects, including damage to your hearing and kidneys. Though vancomycin has its own side effects, it can at least fight those superbugs away.