The challenge of antibiotic resistance: Need to contemplate
Department of Microbiology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India
Received July 20, 2004
“Survival of the fittest” holds good for men and animals as also for bacteria. A majority of bacteria in nature are nonpathogenic, a large number of them, live as commensals on our body leading a symbiotic existence. A limited population of bacteria which has became pathogenic was also sensitive to antibiotics to begin with. It is the man made antibiotic pressure, which has led to the emergence and spread of resistant genes amongst bacteria. Despite the availability of a large arsenal of antibiotics, the ability of bacteria to become resistant to antibacterial agents is amazing. This is more evident in the hospital settings where the antibiotic usage is maximum. The use of antibiotics is widespread in clinical medicine, agriculture, aquaculture, veterinary practice, poultry and even in household products. The major reason for this is the inappropriate use of antibiotics due to a lack of uniform policy and disregard to hospital infection control practices. The antibiotic cover provided by newer antibiotics has been an important factor responsible for the emergence of multi-drug resistant bacteria. Bacterial infections increase the morbidity and mortality, increase the cost of treatment, and prolong hospital stay adding to the economical burden on the nation. The problem is further compounded by the lack of education and “over the counter” availability of antibiotics in developing countries. Antibiotic resistance is now all pervasive with the developed world as much vulnerable to the problem. Despite advancement in medical technology for diagnosis and patient care, a person can still die of an infection caused by a multi-drug resistant bacteria. It is time to think, plan and formulate a strong antibiotic policy to address the burgeoning hospital infection.
Key words Antibiotic – control of resistance – emerging antibiotic resistance – multidrug resistance – resistance
Indian J Med Res 121, February 2005, pp 83-91