Essay by prettybrowneyes5647High School, 11th gradeA+, April 2005

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Antibiotic use promotes development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Antibiotics have not only become ineffective against many kinds of bacteria, the overuse of antibiotics has created super resistant classes of bacteria that can resist all antibiotics and escape our own immune systems. Fatigue, Colds, Sinus Infections, Sore Throats, Respiratory Infections, Skin Infections, Ear Infections, Gastrointestinal Disorders and Food Poisoning are all ailments caused by harmful and resistant bacterial strains that can leave your body feeling poisoned and weakened.

Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria change in some way that reduces or eliminates the effectiveness of drugs, chemicals, or other agents designed to cure or prevent infections. For example, penicillin kills bacteria by attaching to their cell walls, then destroying a key part of the wall. The wall falls apart, and the bacterium dies. Resistant microbes, however, alter their cell walls so penicillin can't bind or produce enzymes that dismantle the antibiotic. In another scenario, an antibiotic called erythromycin attacks ribosomes, structures within a cell that enable it to make proteins.

Resistant bacteria have slightly altered ribosomes to which the drug cannot bind. This is also how bacteria become resistant to the antibiotics tetracycline, streptomycin and gentamicin.

After the discovery of antibiotics in the 1940's they transformed medical care and dramatically reduced illness and death from infectious diseases. However, over the decades the bacteria that antibiotics control have developed resistance to these drugs.

Antibiotic resistance spreads fast. Between 1979 and 1987, for example, only 0.02 percent of pneumococcus strains infecting a large number of patients surveyed by the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were penicillin-resistant. CDC's survey included 13 hospitals in 12 states. Today, 6.6 percent of pneumococcus strains are resistant. The agency also reports that in 1992, 13,300 hospital patients died of bacterial infections that were resistant to antibiotic treatment. Most...