Old Bacteria Resist New Antibiotics

Bacteria resistance has become a major focus in the field of medical science over the past few years due to antibiotic resistant infections such as MRSA. These infections have become increasingly hard to treat even though they are becoming increasingly more common. Perhaps even more frightening are recent discoveries of bacteria present in soil that are highly resistant to current infection fighting antibiotics.

“’Time-Traveling’ Bugs Resist Antibiotics of the Future” by Ewen Calloway, presents startling information relating to the current methods available for treating highly invasive bacteria as well as information that provides readers with an understanding about why these current methods are largely ineffective for the old bacteria. Summary of the Article The article focuses on samples of soil from the 1960s and 1970s that contain bacteria that are highly resistant to new methods of treatment, such as ciprofloxacin (Calloway, 2008).

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Three strains of “future-predicting bacteria” showed extreme resistance to six common antibiotics including ciprofloxacin, which was not even sold until 1989 (Calloway, 2008). Bacteria resistance is not a new problem as is suggested by these older soil samples. Many bacteria have become so resistant to modern forms of antibiotics that older and more toxic antibiotics are being used to treat invasive forms of bacteria (Rice, 2007). Further, much progress was made over the years that led to the development of effective antibiotics for bacterial infections (Rice, 2007).

However, newer strains of bacteria, as well as newly discovered older strains of bacteria, are becoming increasingly resistant to this modern technology. As a result, bacteria is no longer responding to newer forms of antibiotics which results in the need to develop even newer forms of antibiotics in order to stop the spread of dangerous bacteria (Rice, 2007). The article suggests that soil is one avenue for bacteria to get to humans in order to cause infections (Calloway, 2008). It is further suggested that these soil dwelling microbes have evolved as a matter of survival for billions of years (Calloway, 2008).

The fact that they are just now beginning to infect human beings emphasizes the need to develop antibiotics that can effectively fight the bacteria before it becomes a widespread epidemic. Bacteria are single-celled organisms that are found both inside and outside of the body. Most bacteria are not harmful and actually have enormous benefit for human beings (CDC, 2008). However, many bacteria are harmful and antibiotics are necessary for effectively removing them from the human body (CDC, 2008). Antibiotics are drugs specifically designed to fight bacteria (CDC, 2008).

The first antibiotic, penicillin, was discovered in 1927 by Alexander Fleming and as a result, many more antibiotics have been developed that have transformed medical care and have significantly reduced the number of illnesses and deaths associated with bacteria (CDC, 2008). However, discoveries such as the ones in the older soil samples have led to increasing numbers of bacteria that are resistant to currently available antibiotics. Antibiotic resistance occurs when the bacteria changes in certain ways that reduces or eliminates the overall effectiveness of the drug. Therefore, the bacteria are able to survive and multiply (CDC, 2008).

The discovery of soil samples that contain drug resistant bacteria is evidence that bacteria truly do mutate over time (Calloway, 2008) as well as the need for constant improvements to antibiotics being increasingly necessary in order to get rid of bacteria. This is particularly concerning because as human beings are exposed to bacteria in soil they may become ill and/or spread the bacteria to others. If these strains of bacteria are resistant to antibiotics than entire communities are threatened by dangerous bacteria that are incredibly difficult to get rid of (CDC, 2008).

It is also important to note that even as soil is causing increasing numbers of bacterial infections, there is little progress being made in developing more effective forms of antibiotics (Rice, 2007). In fact, pharmaceutical companies are reluctant to even attempt to develop new antibiotics because they do not enjoy higher profits as a result (Rice, 2007). Therefore, ever changing bacteria are here to stay which suggests the need to pay attention to infection control measures as well as reducing resistance to currently available antibiotics by only using them when absolutely necessary (Rice, 2007).

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