Super Bug Bacteria | A Global Threat

Super Bug Bacteria | A Global Threat

A Super bug can be defined as bacteria which are resistant to multiple drugs or antibiotics. These super bugs have become a global threat. Regular disease-causing bacteria have been getting tougher to kill and could get converted into a super bug. Such a super bug would remain unaffected even after treatment with a multiple range of antibiotic. In additional to this, these super bugs are spreading quickly and could become a major threat to world.

How Antibiotics fight micro-organisms?

Antibiotics are the chemical compounds that inhibit the growth of micro-organisms. Generally these antibiotics are antibacterial and anti-fungal in nature. Antibacterial agents are the substances that kill or inhibit the growth of bacteria as well as anti-fungal agents are the substances that kill fungus to cure a disease or infection. Usually some bacterial pathogens are resistant to many antibiotics. These pathogens are called as multi-drug resistant pathogens.

Causes and distribution of a Super bug

These days, in many third world countries, antibiotics are easily available and people purchase and use these antibiotics without a doctor’s prescription. This over use of antibiotics for a longer period of time may result in development of drug resistant bacteria. These bacteria are not only resistant to a single drug but resistant to multiple drugs. Over use of this drug is not only responsible for rise of Super bug but there are many are reasons which are responsible for giving a rise to a Super bug. The reasons are as follows

  • Anti-bacterial soaps, detergents and liquid are easily available and used regularly around the world. These could lead to the development of stronger resistant bacteria.
  • The day to day research is carried out in pharmaceutical industry. The bacteria are tested against wide range of antibiotics to determine its resistance, sensitivity and minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) due to continuous exposure, the sensitive bacteria also starts to develop a resistance against multiple drugs and then develops into a super bug.
  • Livestock animals are fed with food plus antibiotics to protect them from diseases. Antibiotics are given to livestock for three purposes to treat the infection, to improve the efficiency of food and promote growth of live stock. The antibiotics which are not suitable for human use are given to livestock. Due to this, the drugs get utilized in an animal body as well as due to continuous exposure the micro-flora present in animal body develop a resistant against these drugs. Further these resistant bacteria get transmitted to humans via consumption of animal products like meat, milk and eggs as well as by direct contact with the animal.
  • Various devices and tools are used in surgery. If these are not properly sterilized, it could lead to a super bug infection. Endoscope can result in infection of a CRE that is Carbapenem resistant enterobacteriaceae family super bug.
  • The multiple drug resistant bacteria get exposed to the environment through human beings, animal waste and pharmaceutical industry waste.
  • Further when such bacteria are exposed to the environment, they carry out multiplication and replication. The drug resistant genes of bacteria get multiplied and survive, and these multiplied cells get distributed in the environment via air, water, soil, human beings and medical devices used in hospital can result in super bug infection.
  • These distributed super bugs have an ability to spread a mutated gene that is highly drug resistant to other normal bacteria via gene transfer by multiplication (conjugation, transformation and transduction).
  • In this way a Super bug is developed and distributed.

Detection of a Super bug Infection

Generally when a patient is treated for any diseases, he or she is first exposed to first line antibiotics. These first line antibiotics are mild, safe, cheap and easily available and have no side-effects. The first line antibiotics are generally narrow spectrum antibiotics. If these narrow spectrum antibiotics do not work, then the patient is prescribed with second line broad spectrum antibiotics. The second line antibiotics inhibit a wide range of micro-flora. They are expensive, strong and show some side-effects on patient. Further if the patient still continues to have an infection, he or she is treated with a third line of high spectrum and high level antibiotics. Third level antibiotics are very strong and they show adverse side effects on patient.

If such a condition develops where these wide range of antibiotics do not succeed in curing the disease and a situation becomes critical then we can say a patient is infected by a super bug.

Examples of Super bugs

On the basis of type of antibiotic resistance, the Super bugs are divided into some types.

  1. NDM-1
    This super bug was reported in India. This super produces a enzyme called as New Delhi Metallo-Beta-Lactamase this enzyme destroys beta lactamase ring present in the structure of antibiotics. This super bug is resistant to all antibiotics that contains beta lactamase ring.
  2. Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)
    This super bug is resistant to Methicillin antibiotic and causes wound infection.
  3. Escherichia coli
    It is also called as ESBL. This super bug is resistant to fluoroquinolane antibiotics and they cause blood poisoning as well as urinary tract infection.
  4. Clostridium difficile
    This super bug causes severe diarrhoea, inflammation of stomach and dehydration as well as this super bug produces 20 times more toxins than the normal strain. Clostridium difficile super bug is resistant to Clindamycin antibiotics.
  5. Streptococcus and Enterococcus
    Super bug causes pneumonia, otitis, meningitis, sinusitis and arthritis. It is resistant many antibiotics.
  6. Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Mycobacterium tuberculosis
    It is multi-drug resistant superbug.

Replacement for antibiotics to fight the Super bug problem?

Bacteriophages seem to be a solution. A bacteriophage is a virus that infects and replicates within bacteria.These can be designed to target a specific bacteria and kill it. These will replace antibiotics within this decade.

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