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Super Bugs

The discovery of antibiotics is widely hailed as one of the miracles of modern medicine. However, the widespread use and misuse of such infection-fighting medicines have given rise to a new generation of infectious bacteria, known as ôsuper-bugsö. When bacteria survive antibiotics, they develop resistance. This resistance is passed to future generations of the bacteria, making them all but immune to antibiotics commonly used to treat such infections. The misuse of antibiotics, including not using all of a prescription or overusing them, and the practice of providing livestock with large doses to spur growth and offset unsanitary conditions has given rise to ôthree species of pathogens that have acquired multi-drug resistance (MDR)ö (Will 1995, 18). This analysis will discuss these three species of ôsuper-bugsö, including current government and health community efforts to combat them.

There are three species of pathogens that have become known as ôsuper-bugsö, because of their ability to survive conventional antibiotics. The three species of ôsuper-bugsö include: Pneumococcus (middle-ear infection); Staphylococcus aureus (wound, skin, and blood infections); and Enterococcus faecium (septicemia, endocarditis, wound and urinary tract infections) (Will 1995). Such bacteria have become immune to common antibiotics prescribed to treat them. The biggest reason for their development is the overuse and misuse of antibiotics in people and animals. With few drugs available to treat such MDR bacteria and those that are available being very expensive, health professionals have been encouraged to decrease the use of antibiotics but this has not occurred. Despite some hospitals routinely changing which antibiotics they use and others prescribing alternative drugs, ôsuper-bugsö continue to emerge. As Ainsworth (2001) argues, ôAlthough there was a 45-fold decrease in the use of sulphonamide antibiotics between 1991 and


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