Superbugs Research Paper

A kid catches a disease; one of his friends from school gets it from him; he gives it to his brother; his brother to his parents; his parents to their coworkers; their coworkers spread it to their families; and pretty soon, the whole country has the infection and they all turn into zombies because there’s no cure. Sounds like the plot for the next Spielberg thriller, right? Surprisingly, this scenario is a lot more likely than many of us think.

While the idea of zombies developing may be farfetched, the principle of an incurable infection is not. This is because, due to the abuse of antibiotics from doctors and those in the farming industry, biologists are beginning to discover the effects that the abuse of the antibiotics has on bacteria, and what they have uncovered is the real risk of these normal bacteria turning into….. SUPERBUGS! So what are superbugs? Superbugs are strains of bacteria that have become resistant to antibiotic drugs.

Superbugs are an impending crisis because they will affect a lot of people, there is no foreseeable way to stop them from developing, and measures to slow superbug development are vital in order to prevent simple infections from becoming life-threatening. Firstly, what causes superbugs to develop? Well, the first thing we must understand is that, fundamentally, superbugs will develop when using antibiotics no matter how careful we are in using them. This is because antibiotic resistance (AKA superbugs) is directly proportional to the rate of exposure to antibiotics. 1 So, with that being said, superbugs develop in two main ways.

The first, and most painstakingly obvious, is from doctors prescribing antibiotics for things that don’t require them. This includes trivial things such as a common cold, the flu, and any other viral infection that the patient may demand medicine for to make them feel better. A study conducted by Denisa Hagau, MD of Brown University found that 46% of antibiotic prescriptions were injudicious2, meaning that they should not have been prescribed because either the infection was not confirmed or they were prescribed for too long for a treatment or too high of an antibiotic concentration for treatment.

The study further concluded that empiric prescription of multiple broad-spectrum antibiotics in hospital patients occurred frequently; this is especially important because these types of antibiotics are the worst offenders in the development of superbugs because, essentially, using a broad-spectrum antibiotic is similar to trying to kill a single person by ordering an AC-130 missile strike to decimate a city the size of New York City. While it will kill the target bacteria, it also exposes the plethora of other bacteria in the body to the antibiotic that otherwise should not be.

The second and most nefarious way superbugs develop is through antibiotics fed to farm animals for food production. In modern food production, most farm animals are fed subtherapeutic, or small, doses of antibiotics to promote animal growth, prevent infection in the animals from unsanitary living spaces, and increase output of animal products (animals will develop more muscle, output more milk, etc. ). 3 In fact, 80% of the United States’ antibiotics produced are used in food animal production, as of 2011.

4 The constant exposure of farm animals to antibiotics leads to the development of harmful superbugs in these animals, and contact with and consumption of animal products such as beef, chicken, and pork, as well as animal byproducts such as gelatin, can and do lead to the transmission of harmful superbugs to humans. 5 The first thing any person should ask themselves after hearing all this is, “How will this affect me? ” Truthfully, as of 2014, the answer is, “Not that much.

” We currently still have stronger antibiotics able to overcome some strains of superbugs, but these antibiotics are becoming less effective and the development of new antibiotics is much slower than the rate at which new superbugs develop. That being said, superbugs are still a problem today, and they have the potential to be catastrophic tomorrow. Some superbugs that are a problem right now because of their antibiotic resistance include Gonorrhea, a nasty STD, MRSA, a disgusting and life-threatening staph infection, some forms of pneumonia, Typhoid fever, Tuberculosis, and many other common bacteria.

6 In fact, according to the United States Center for Disease Control, “Each year in the United States, at least 2 million people become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics and at least 23,000 people die each year as a direct result of these infections. Many more people die from other conditions that were complicated by an antibiotic-resistant infection. ”7 Shockingly, superbugs kill more people every year than HIV or AIDS.

8 This problem will only be exacerbated with time as more bacteria develop into harmful superbugs. The underlying point is this: many deaths from common infection, which were once stopped with antibiotics, are caused by superbugs. Superbugs will develop as antibiotics are used more and more often. Common infections that develop antibiotic resistance will become deadly if left unchecked. At this point I hope you’re at the edge of your seat asking yourself, “What can we do?! ” Unfortunately, the answer is, “Not that much.

” This is because no matter what, “Bacteria will inevitably find ways of resisting the antibiotics we develop,” so this is why, “aggressive action is needed now to keep new resistance from developing and to prevent the resistance that already exists from spreading. ” 9 But whatever you do, don’t panic! Right now there is still plenty of time for us to take action. You see, we should think of antibiotics as a shared resource, kind of like water. Currently there is a lot of it to go around, but if we keep using it when we don’t need it, kind of like letting the tap run all day without drinking from it, it might become more scare.

10 It’s vital to make sure that any antibiotics you are prescribed are for things that actually require antibiotics. Instead of the antibiotics for your cold that aren’t going to do anything for the actual infection, get a lot of rest and drink some water. For things like the flu and other viral infections, you should rest and tough it out, too! Be sure to always question if the antibiotics you are prescribed are necessary, because like most things, moderation is key. It is important to be conscious of and support efforts lobbying against subtherapeutic antibiotic use in farm animal food production.

While this use does offer benefits in terms of farm output, the accelerated development of superbugs from this and the costs to public health that this entails far outweigh those benefits. It is also important to support research and development of alternative treatments for bacteria other than antibiotics, because inevitably superbugs will develop as we use antibiotics so it is imperative that we have alternative treatment avenues. In closing, remember firstly that superbugs develop through overuse of antibiotic prescriptions from your doctor and from farm production; secondly, that these antibiotic-resistant bacteria known as superbugs cause commonly curable infections to become much harder to treat and in some cases life-threatening; and lastly, that it is important to be conscious of antibiotics you are prescribed and to support efforts to develop alternatives to antibiotics so superbugs do not become a rampant problem in society.

The fact of the matter is that we do not want to be overrun by an infectious army of superbugs, so it’s important that you do your job as a citizen to protect us from these microscopic harbingers of misery and doom.

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