Over the past few decades the success of antibiotics has been impressive, yet this success is now being hindered by the emergence of a new threat: antibiotic resistance strains of bacteria and the birth of super bugs.
Although some historians argue the exact date, it was about 1928 when antibiotics, specifically penicillin, were discovered by bacteriologist Alexander Fleming in London. Subsequently, with the new found success of penicillin in treating infection, the global antibiotics race began. Today, care providers choose from dozens of antibiotics and they are being prescribed in very high numbers. At least 150 million antibiotic prescriptions are written in the United States each year!
Recently, a new study discussed by the Huffington Post finds that the antibiotics most commonly used to treat “resistant” bacteria, or methicillin- resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), may actually make the infection worse. MRSA causes “staph” infections, a major public health threat and responsible for a growing number of serious illnesses and deaths, causing more than 80K infections and 11K deaths yearly. A recent Cell Host & Microbe article suggested that one common MRSA antibiotic treatment currently used may inadvertently activate the body’s own pathogen-defense system and actually worsen skin infections. Dr. Liu of Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles relayed that mice infected with MRSA who receive a beta-lactam antibiotic cocktail of penicillin derivatives “could end up being sicker than if they received no treatment at all”!
Right now about two million Americans develop hospital-acquired infections each year, and 99,000 die. About 75% begin in places such as nursing homes and doctors’ offices. The economic burden to the U.S. may be as high as $45 billion per year. We are at risk for a huge pandemic as resistant strains become more virulent throughout the world and the need for transport and treatment of patients increases. Click here for info on the Infectious Disease Kit.