The Misuse of Antibiotics is Creating Frightful New Breeds of
by Sylvan Bachhuber, age 14
misuse and overuse of antibiotics has created new strains of more
resistant, and even deadly bacteria. Recently, the Center of Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC) published a list of the three most
urgent antibiotic-caused bacteria: Clostridium difficile (C.
diff), Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), and
of the body as an ecosystem, liable to natural selection. Different
forms of bacteria on the order of 1014 live all over the
human body, and most of them live in the gut. When antibiotics are
introduced, maybe to fight off a particularly pesky case of strep
throat, the effect on bacteria population can be apocalyptic. While
numbers of bacteria bounce back, the populations of certain species
will grow back in different proportions.
antibiotics are unnecessarily prescribed, they may allow problematic
specimens, originally kept in check by other bacteria, to grow
stronger, causing harmful infections.
C. diff, which kills 14,000 people each year, is a particularly
dangerous specimen. In hospitals and nursing homes, where antibiotic
use is prevalent, people are more likely to harbor a vulnerable
bacteria population. When C. diff spreads in these places, epidemics
of this potentially deadly infection occur.
CRE and drug-resistant gonorrhea occur when antibiotics are taken but
do not kill all of the infectious bacteria. This leaves only the
strongest specimens, which then grow and invade the body. Now
antibiotic-resistant, these “super bacteria” are much harder to
treat when they inevitably spread. These resistant bacteria are so
problematic that half of the diagnosed CRE patients die from
infection. Drug-resistant gonorrhea is so common that the CDC
estimated that 30 percent of the 800,000 gonorrhea cases each year
these three diseases are the only ones identified as “urgent,”
there are many other problematic, antibiotic-resistant bacteria that
need to be addressed.
To help prevent the spread of these resistant bacteria, the CDC has
designed several necessary steps. Among these are preventive
vaccinations, cutting unneeded antibiotics, hospital control plans,
better tracking of infections, and developing of more specific
Hopefully, if these steps are taken, they will be able to not only
treat, but prevent these deadly infections.
[Source: USA Today]