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Bacterial resistance to antibiotics

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In many ways, the most fascinating feature of bacteria is their ability to resist the onslaught of antibiotics through natural selection. Generally, the two characteristics that most help bacteria render antibiotics futile are the resistance genes in a few bacterial cells, and exposure to antibiotics. When an antibiotic for a particular strain of bacteria is created and administered, it kills every cell vulnerable to the drug. However, some bacterial cells survive due to genetic mutations or because they possess protective genes obtained from other bacteria. Due to exposure to the antibiotic, most of the surviving cells' natural competitors for nutrients and space (the bacteria susceptible to the drug) ...read more.


Bacteria are also able to live on people's unwashed hands and invasive, prosthetic materials, such as plastic catheters, for long periods of time, allowing bacteria to invade patients in hospitals very easily. One such species of bacteria is Staphylococcus aureus, commonly known as staph, which have thrived in hospital environments. Staph bacteria can breed in patients' skin or the hands of a nurse or other person in contact with the patient, and easily be transferred to catheters (long plastic tubes which travel through patients' bodies in order to expedite the receiving of medicine or blood transfusions) or open sores on the patiyent. ...read more.


This became clear in July of 1997 when a 59-year old diabetic patient from Michigan with kidney failure using a dialysis machine to clean his blood, became infected with a strain of S. aureus. The bacteria withstood every drug, including vancomycin, and after some time, doctors were forced to remove the plastic stomach catheter that had caused the infection. While the infection cleared up, the man eventually died of his original disease. One of the most persistent methods antibiotic resistance is encouraged in bacteria is through the feeding of antibiotics to cattle and livestock in order to advance their growth. Although the amount of antibiotics reaching humans is miniscule, over time, it slowly builds up resistance. One method to reduce antibiotic resistance is to ban the utilization of antibiotics used in humans in animal growth production. ...read more.

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