• Question: What causes antibiotic resistance??

    Asked by Dolly da Gucci to Ivy, George, Daniel, Christina, Cheryl on 23 Jan 2017.
    • Photo: Christina Obiero

      Christina Obiero answered on 23 Jan 2017:

      Hi Dolly da Gucci, this is a very good and important question. As we all know, antibiotics are important medication used to either treat bacterial infections or prevent (prophylaxis) them from occurring. There are many different kinds of antibiotics and they specifically target different kinds of bacteria by various mechanism e.g. binding to bacterial cell membrane or enzymes and preventing bacteria from multiplying or killing bacteria altogether.
      Antibiotic resistance occurs when an antibiotic that was previously used to treat/cure/prevent a certain infection no longer works the way it used to/is supposed to work. In such a case, the antibiotic is not effective against certain bacteria. Resistance may be complete (100%) or partial/intermediate (less than 100% hence the antibiotic can still kill or inactivate the bacteria but not well enough to clear the infection which may therefore take longer than usual for the patient to recover).
      There are many causes of antibiotic resistance:
      1. Mutation/change in the cell wall/membrane of the bacteria resulting in the antibiotic not being able to bind onto the surface of the bacteria.
      2. Bacteria that have developed resistance to certain antibiotics can transfer the resistance genes to other bacteria within the same environment.
      Factors that accelerate/increase the spread/emergence of antibiotic resistance:
      1. Misuse of antibiotics: e.g. if we use antibiotics when that are not needed or for longer duration than necessary then we expose our bodies to antibiotics unnecessarily. This results in poor response to the drugs when we actually need them.
      2. Not taking the antibiotics at the doses and times as prescribed by the doctor.
      3. Consumption of poultry or beef that were exposed to antibiotics in order to enhance their growth (fatten them up).

    • Photo: Cheryl Andisi

      Cheryl Andisi answered on 23 Jan 2017:

      Hi Dolly da Gucci,
      @Christina has given you a very comprehensive answer.

      Lets all remember that we all have a duty in stopping this menace! According to recent research, there is very high antibiotic resistance to all common antibiotics and even to the antibiotics not used routinely. Which means that we might be heading to a time when we might be infected with bacteria that we cannot treat- because of our ignorance!