Antibiotic resistance is the inability of the antibiotic to inhibit the growth of certain bacteria, thereby making it useless to treat infections caused by that particular bacteria. Development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is possibly the most serious side effect of long-term antibiotic use. According to an article published in the August 2009 edition of the “Journal of American Medical Association,” bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pyogenes and Mycobacterium tuberculosis are developing resistance against antibiotics, and as a result, common infections are becoming more difficult to treat, patients are requiring extended hospital stays and the spread of these resistant bacteria is threatening communities.
There is concern worldwide that antibiotics are being overused. This overuse is contributing toward the growing number of bacterial infections that are becoming resistant to antibacterial medications.
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), outpatient antibiotic overuse in the United States is a particular problem in the Southeast.
The ECDC (European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control) says that antibiotic resistance continues to be a serious public health threat worldwide. In a statement issued in November 2012, the ECDC informed that an estimated 25,000 people die each year in the European Union from antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections.
New ECDC data shows that there has been a considerable increase over the last few years of combined resistance to multiple antibiotics in E. coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae in over one-third of European Union and EEA (European Economic Area) nations.
Consumption of carbapenems, a major class of last-line antibiotics, increased significantly from 2007 to 2010.
Alexander Fleming, speaking in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech in 1945 said: “Then there is the danger that the ignorant man may easily underdose himself and by exposing his microbes to non-lethal quantities of the drug, make them resistant.”
As predicted, almost 70 years ago by the man who discovered the first antibiotic, drug resistance is upon us.