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Be aware of widespread drug-resistant strains which brought by overuse of antibiotics

Antibiotics have greatly contributed to the eradication of infectious diseases throughout human history. Before 1950, over 100,000 patients lost their lives annually due to an infection with bacteria responsible for tuberculosis. However, almost no patients die by tuberculosis nowadays because of antibiotics. There had been mortal cases in the past when bacteria entered the body from wounds that occurred during childbirth or injuries.

After the development of antibiotics, these cases rarely occurred. As these examples, antibiotics have been an absolutely necessary medicine for us to fight against harmful bacteria. On the other hand, the penetration of antibiotics has created bacteria that are resistant to medicines. These bacteria are called antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria do not die even if they get antibacterial agents. They originally occur in nature. Unfortunately, only the bacteria resistant to antibacterial agents survive and grow their numbers if humans keep taking antibiotics for a long time. According to a research study that was published in 2014, the administration of antibiotics affected gut microbiota and the number of intestinal bacteria declined while antibiotic-resistant bacteria that initially reside in the intestine could survive for a year.

Moreover, farm animals keep taking a certain amount of antibiotics because a low level of antibiotic is mixed with their feeds. Actually, the weight of animals increases by giving antibiotics. While the use of antibiotics as a growth stimulant is prohibited in Europe, many other countries including Japan have still been using it. Other studies have reported that an administration of antibiotic to humans made them obese. Antibiotics are also used for plants. These wide ranges of use of antibiotics have encouraged an increase of antibiotic- resistant bacteria.

In-hospital infection has become a big issue with the increase of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Since the 1970s, many people have been infected with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) which is one of the antibiotic-resistant bacteria and MRSA has been widespread in medical facilities. The antibiotic-resistant bacteria have spread to the public and caused dermatitis, pneumonia and meningitis. 262 million outpatients in the US were prescribed antibiotics in 2011. According to the research data reported in 2016, about 30% of those prescribed antibiotics might be unnecessary.

Furthermore, a report in England have made a prediction that the annual fatalities from antibiotic-resistant bacteria will reach to about ten million people in 2050. Notably, the number of deaths will be very high in Asia and Africa and serious financial damages are anticipated.

Credit to: Muneaki Takahata Ph.,D.

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