This past week, the World Health Organization made a very troubling announcement. We are running out of antibiotics. As much as public health officials have tried to slow the progress of antibiotic resistance, the pace has not slowed and the post-antibiotic era is closer than ever.
The reasons for the rise in antimicrobial resistance have been known for quite some time. The usual suspects are inappropriate prescriptions in medicine and the improper use of antibiotics in agriculture. For years, organizations such as the WHO, the CDC and Public Health Agency of Canada have been attempting to tackle these global issues in the hopes of maintaining our antibiotic supply. Yet, as last week’s declaration reveals, there still is much work to be done.
One of the problems associated with the rise in antibiotic resistance is the lack of understanding of how these bacterial species manage to find their way into people to cause infection. Despite the focus on preventative measures such as hygiene, sanitation and infection control practices in health care, antibiotic-resistant bacteria still manage to find their way into individuals. From a purely microbiological perspective, something must be occurring at the microscopic level to allow these bacteria a chance to colonize, survive and thrive. Yet this has continued to be a mystery.
Now that has changed thanks to a group of American researchers. They have provided a glimpse into how these antibiotic-resistant bacteria manage to evade human practices. The results reveal the problem may be far more complicated than we imagined, and resolution may require significant changes in the…