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When the Antibiotics Quit Working

Essay by   •  June 4, 2012  •  Research Paper  •  626 Words (3 Pages)  •  1,214 Views

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When the Antibiotics Quit Working

Microbes and antibiotics are no respecters of persons. As I read a couple of articles in our library this caught my attention. A 49 year old Argentine businessman, who was generally too busy to see a physician when he felt ill, preferred to treat himself with antibiotics and other drugs he purchased at his local pharmacy. He experienced intermittent periods of coughing, fever, and fatigue for several weeks. Finally, consulting his physician who found small bleeds under his skin decided to run some blood tests. The diagnosis was leukemia. He sought treatment in Boston for his leukemia and the bacterial infection, which was the source of the high fever that had begun. After 10 days of chemotherapy for the leukemia, no abnormal cells were seen in his blood. A bone marrow test showed that he had responded to the leukemia treatment and was on his way to remission. However, the Escherichia coli infection responsible for his high fever was proving intractable. Lab results revealed that it was resistant to eight different antibiotics, including the newer cephalosporins. A few days later he lost consciousness due to an intracranial bleed, which resulted in his (Levy, 2002). Autopsy results showed no trace of leukemia, but multiple sites of Escherichia coli infection. His intestinal tract had become an incubator for the development of antibiotic resistant organisms, including the Escherichia coli.

An antibiotic is defined as "a derivative produced by the metabolism of microorganisms that possess antibacterial activity at low concentrations and is not toxic to the host (Bryskier, 2005). Common usage has broadened this definition to include semi-synthetic and synthetic antibacterials. Antibiotics are primarily useful in combating bacterial and some fungal infections, but are useless against viruses. Most antibiotics are produced by the bacterial genera Bacillus and Streptomyces or the fungal genera Cephalosponum and Penicillium (Bauman, 2009).

When the Antibiotics Quit Working

Resistance may also be conferred by pathogens that slow or prevent entry of antimicrobials. Gram-negative bacteria possess proteins called porins in their outer membranes that, when altered, reduce or halt drug absorption. These chromosomal mutations are often responsible for penicillin and tetracycline resistance. Evidence also shows that through a controlled experiment or a controlled group, antibiotic resistant microbes can colonize humans through animal-humane contact. In 2002 Levy conducted an experiment to examine the formation and passage of antibiotic resistant organisms from animal to humans in which he used two groups of chickens, one receiving oxytetracycline in its feed and one as a control receiving none. Within 24-36 hours, the fecal flora of the experimental group revealed a conversion from mostly



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