Antibiotic Resistance Essay, Research Paper
Antibiotic resistance in bacteria: “The more times you use a drug,
the more it will decrease the effect it has on you.”
For about 50 years, antibiotics have been the answer to many bacterial infections. Antibiotics
are chemical substances that are secreted by living things. Doctors prescribed these medicines to
cure many diseases. During World War II, they treated one of the biggest killers during wartime,
infected wounds. It was the beginning of the antibiotic era. But just when antibiotics were being
mass produced, bacteria started to evolve and became resistant to these medicines.
Antibiotic resistance can be the result of different things. One cause of resistance could be drug
abuse. There are people who believe that when they get sick, antibiotics are the answer. The more
times you use a drug, the more it will decrease the effect it has on you. That is because the
bacteria has found a way to avoid the effects of that antibiotic. Another cause of resistance is the
improper use of drugs. When patients feel that the symptoms of their disease have improved, they
often stop taking the drug. Just because the symptoms have disappeared it does not mean the
disease has gone away. Prescribed drugs should be taken until all the medicine is gone so the
disease is completely finished. If it is not, then this will just give the bacteria some time to find a
way to avoid the effects of the drug.
One antibiotic that will always have a long lasting effect in history is penicillin. This was the
first antibiotic ever to be discovered. Alexander Fleming was the person responsible for the
discovery in 1928. In his laboratory, he noticed that in some of his bacteria colonies, that he was
growing, were some clear spots. He realized that something had killed the bacteria in these clear
spots, which ended up to be a fungus growth. He then discovered that inside this mold was a
substance that killed bacteria. It was the antibiotic, penicillin.
Penicillin is a group of antibiotics derived from the fungus Penicillium. Or it can be created by
using partially artificial processes. Natural penicillin was discovered by Fleming but another ten
years passed before penicillin was concentrated and studied by British biochemist Ernst Chain,
British pathologist Sir Howard Florey, and other scientists.
Penicillin acts both by killing bacteria and by inhibiting their growth. It does not kill organisms
in the resting stage but only those growing and reproducing. Penicillin is effective against a wide
range of disease bearing microorganisms, including pneumococci, streptococci, gonococci,
meningococci, the clostridium that cause tetanus, and the syphilis spirochete. The drug has been
successfully used to treat such deadly diseases as endocarditis, septicemia, gas gangrene, gonorrhea,
and scarlet fever. Side affects produced by penicillin are limited largely to allergic reactions that can
be anticipated by the use of scratch tests before administration of the drug.
Penicillin became the most powerful germ killer known at that time. Antibiotics kill disease
causing bacteria by interfering with their processes. Penicillin kills bacteria by attaching to their
cell walls. Then it destroys part of the wall. The cell wall breaks apart and bacteria dies.
After four years, when drug companies started to mass produce penicillin, in 1943, the first signs
of penicillin resistant bacteria started to show up. The first bacteria that fought penicillin was
called Staphylococcus aureus. This bug is usually harmless but can cause an illness such as
pneumonia. In 1967, another penicillin resistant bacteria formed. It was called pneumococcus and
it broke out in a small village in Papua New Guinea. Other penicillin resistant bacteria that formed
are Enterococcus faecium and a new strain of gonorrhea.
Antibiotic resistance can occur by a mutation of DNA in bacteria or DNA acquired from
another bacteria that is drug resistant through transformation. Penicillin resistant bacteria can alter
their cell walls so penicillin can not attach to it. The bacteria can also produce different enzymes that
can take apart the antibiotic.
Since antibiotics became so prosperous, all other strategies to fight bacterial diseases were put
aside. Now since the effects of antibiotics are decreasing and antibiotic resistance is increasing,
new research on how to battle bacteria is starting.
Antibiotic resistance spreads fast but efforts are being made to slow it. Improving infection
control, discovering new antibiotics, and taking drugs more appropriately are ways to prevent
resistant bacteria from spreading. In developing nations, approaches are being made to control
infections such as hand washing by health care people, and identifying drug resistant infections
quickly to keep them away from others. The World Health Organization has began a global
computer program that reports any outbreaks of drug resistant bacterial infections.
In the early 1900’s, the discovery of penicillin began the antibiotic era. People thought they
have finally won the battle with bacteria. But now since antibiotic resistance is increasing rapidly,
new strategies must be developed to destroy these microbes.