Tag Archives: Antimicrobial Resistance

Dr. C’s Journal: The Rise Of Antimicrobial Resistance

We are immersed in a vast sea of tiny organisms, microbes, most of which are either helpful or neutral. There are a few bad actors that can harm people and are responsible for plagues of the past, such as the black death, cholera and influenza epidemics.

This whole picture changed in the late 30s with the advent of Sulfonamides, and especially Penicillin, the “magic bullet”. I was practicing medicine early in the days when antibiotics eliminated almost all infections.

In fact, at one time infections were thought to be a problem of the past. Unfortunately, overusage, chronic multiple infections, surgically implanted devices, immune suppression for cancer and autoimmune diseases have allowed bacteria, fungi and viruses to evolve resistance mechanisms.

At the present time there are a number of bacteria, such as staphylococci, actino bacteria, enterococci, and candida that are essentially untreatable. Even if they are somewhat treatable, second and third level antibiotics are so toxic that they can cause problems with the kidney, liver, or heart.

In later postings, I plan to consider specific organisms and the situations in which they operate. I will also eventually talk about efforts to create new antibiotics by harvesting genetic material from unusual places, even our oceans.

—Dr. C.

ANALYSIS: MULTIRESISTANT BACTERIA THAT OUTSMART ANTIBIOTICS (VIDEO)

Antimicrobial resistance is one of the greatest medical challenges of our time. Among the causes are industrial livestock farming, poor hygiene in hospitals, and the misuse of antibiotics. This documentary looks at approaches to fighting multiresistant strains of bacteria.

Each year 33,000 people in Europe die after becoming infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. Hygiene specialist Dr. Ron Hendrix has been working for years to prevent outbreaks of infectious disease in hospitals. Dr. Hendrix says that he and other experts in the Netherlands recognized early on that they’d have to fight the spread of bacteria just as actively as they would the actual infection.

Hendrix has convinced a number of German hospitals to re-open their diagnostic laboratories, as well. In the early 2000s, many of these labs had been shut down as a cost-cutting measure. And farmers in Denmark voluntarily chose to sharply reduce their use of antibiotics, after evidence showed that intensive livestock farming caused multiresistant bacteria to multiply.

Infectious disease specialist Dr. Patrick Soentjens was able to convince Belgium’s health ministry to allow the use of “phages” to treat stubborn antimicrobial resistant pathogens. Phages are special viruses that kill bacteria. Dr. Soentjens is certain that this well-known, but largely forgotten option could save many lives. Belgium has become the first western European country where phages have been officially recognized as a legitimate medical treatment.