When antibiotics were first discovered, they were seen as miraculous medicine that could cure any bacterial infection. Unfortunately, bacteria are quite smart, and over several generations, many bacteria are starting to evolve a resistance to normal antibiotics. A woman from Nevada recently passed away after getting an infection while traveling. This infection was resistant to all the medications her doctor tried, so she ended up dying from an infection that should have been easily treatable.
Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria Kill Nevada Woman
Antibiotic resistant bacteria are bacteria that do not die when exposed to normal antibiotics. This happens when certain strains of bacteria develop an immunity to antibiotics because their bacterial ancestors were exposed to the medication yet did not die. In the past few decades, antibiotic resistance has risen so quickly that people can easily be infected with a resistant strain (or a super-infection).
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 2 million people get antibiotic resistant infections each year in the United States, and 23,000 of these people end up dying. A woman in Nevada recently died because she broke her leg and got an infection. Normally, bacteria are resistant to just one or two types of antibiotics, but the one that infected the woman was a multi-resistant strain. The woman ended up getting a super-infection Klebsiella bacteria that was resistant to all 26 types of antibiotics that her home hospital tried to treat her with.
What started as a simple infection ended up traveling through her circulatory system and causing her entire body to shut down. Doctors believe that the woman picked up the resistant Klebsiella strain while being initially treated for the leg in India. Doctors in India tend to overprescribe antibiotics to try preventing infections, and this has lead to rapidly increasing amounts of antibiotic resistant bacteria. This has resulted in a Klebsiella strain that is deemed “virtually untreatable” by physicians.
Health Experts Warn About the Dangers of Antibiotic Resistance
According to the World Health Organization, “antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development today.” Bacteria resistance is particularly bad when humans and animals use antibiotics to treat minor health problems that do not even need a prescription.
In some countries like India, health workers overprescribe antibiotics as a preventative measure, which leads to further antibiotic resistance. Another issue is that many people stop taking antibiotics as soon as they feel better. This allows the few slightly resistant bacteria to live and develop more resistant types of bacteria instead of being killed off entirely.
There are now very resistant strains of MRSA, gonorrhea, e. coli, pneumonia, and tuberculosis. All of this sounds quite frightening, but researchers are working to find new methods of dealing with resistant bacteria. Bacteria can usually only be resistant to the medicines they are exposed to, so newly developed antibiotic medications can sometimes still treat an infection.
Researchers at Oregon State University have also managed to create some molecules that attack the antibiotic resistance in bacteria. Future research could help to reverse antibiotic resistance in certain species. Until this issue is solved, more may continue to die from infections.
Antibiotic Misuse Threatens Everyone
The Nevada woman’s case was shocking because antibiotic resistance caused her to die from a broken leg, but even when resistant bacteria do not kill, they make it much harder for people to heal. Antibiotic resistance is worrying, but there is still hope for halting this process.
Bacterial scientists are encouraging doctors to stop overprescribing antibiotics and encouraging patients to complete antibiotic courses. These steps will help to slow down the development of antibiotic resistance.