12 January 2011


Superbug: Rise of Drug Resistant Bacteria

Our world now is far more different than before. If you consider evolution perhaps this is the answer to some questions why changes and mutations took place.

Due to the widespread use of life - saving drugs came up the rise of drug resistant bacteria. MRSA   a Methicillin - resistant Staphylococcus aureus is more common than expert expected. According to Center for Disease Control and Prevention drug resistant bacteria was once confined to a hospital setting but now has become prevalent in a broader community.

MRSA belongs to a genus of bactria and there are more than 30 types called Staphylococcus. These bacteria can be found in adults at about 30% mostly in the skin and in the nose. Most people who carry this bug are healthy though they are said to be colonized but not infected. The most infectious one is the Staphylococcus aureus, this gets into the body through the break of the skin such as cuts, scrapes or burn. Though healthy adults not suffer much on the symptoms but people who are immune system challenged like old aged, children, cancer patients, people with blood related illnesses and HIV or AID patients were at risk. MRSA as superbug is a drug resistant though it responds to a more potent antibiotic such as vancomycin.

Death rates are higher since diagnosis is not easily recognized unless bacterial culture has done either infection was caused by MRSA or ordinary staph Bacteria.

MSRA usually confined to a hospital and other health care facilities like nursing homes and dialysis center. However, it has been observed it occur to a person with weakened immune system who were taking multiple antibiotics and have undergone invasive procedures like intravenous catheters and surgery. This form also spreads to crowded conditions and a skin to skin contact especially they are exposed to cuts, abrasions. Most likely this kind of infection spreads by poor personal hygiene such as infrequent hand washing and a habit of sharing contaminated items like towels and other personal toiletries.

According to a study antibiotic resistance develop when bacteria undergo genetic changes in order to survive and reproduce, microbes must adapt to their environment like humans do. When introduced to a certain antibiotic bacteria mostly likely to survive when tend to undergo genetic mutation that helps it resist the drug. This mutation leads the bacteria to develop strands to protect them selves against antibiotics that can harm them by making an enzyme that will deactivate the antibiotics encountered and all the of this genes will be passed on to the entire bacterial population to multiply that is resistant to that drug.

The process speed up if the doctors prescribed antibiotics unnecessarily since by killing some bacteria antibiotics can promote the growth of drug resistant ones. That ones that has developed genetic mutations. An example mentioned here was like giving patients antibiotics who has viral illnesses such as colds and flu for which they are ineffective and a critically ill patients often receive multiple antibiotics, this tend to increase most resistant bacteria which may then transferred to other patients in close quarters.

Other contributory factors were in agricultural practices, antibiotics used and mixed into animal feed to prevent spread of diseases and promote growth. This can cause strains of bacteria to develop and passed on to people who eat undercooked meat or raw eggs. Antibiotics sprayed on fruit trees may lead to selection of resistant bacteria.  Residues left of unwashed fruits may eradicate some of the good bacteria in our intestinal tract and select more virulent strains.

Like the previous H1N1, SARS, Malaria, Dengue and Yellow Fever all has developed new stands and mutated to more virulent type. This superbug a drug resistant infectious bacterium has been on the rise and is not only alarming to the healthcare setting but also in the community where in crowded places like schools, athletic center, prison cell etc.


The best and only preventive measures is frequent thorough hand washing.  This must be enforced strictly in all settings, hospitals, kitchen, schools, restaurants and other populated facilities.

The use of prescribed antibiotics must be strictly followed prudently. Take exactly as directed.  Never store unused antibiotics for future use

Healthcare staff must survey MRSA, isolate patients with MRSA infection and make sure environment is clean.

Proper medical protocol on invasive procedures like use of antibiotic coated catheters

Proper use of gloves with disinfectants and waste management

If you were hospitalized make sure visitors washed their hands before entering the room and after leaving the room, if possible wear mask, gowns and gloves. Follow hospital policy and rules

Carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer when you don’t have access to soap and water.

Don’t share personal items like towel, razors, sheets, athletic clothing and other personal equipment.

Keep cuts, scrapes, abrasion clean and cover with sterile bandage.

Shower frequently especially after working out and wear clean clothes always.
Source of Information:
Healthcare Magazine (Middle East Edition)
Essential Information for Medical Professionals
Vol. 4 Issue 4

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