By Yvette Martyn


Antibiotic resistance is on the rise

GP’s have yet again been warned to cut back on the prescription of antibiotics to prevent the emerging antibiotic resistance.

Antibiotics became resistant in a process very similar to Darwin’s theory of survival of the fittest. Lots of bacteria populated inside a person, random mutations occured in the bacteria’s DNA and one day antibiotics were given and the random mutation lead to the bacteria being able to fight off the antibiotic.

Just like the giraffe with the long neck which reached the leafs enabling survival, this bacteria found a way to get around the process the antibiotic used to kill it.

Staphylococcus Aureus did it (hence the superbug MRSA, Methicillin Resistant staphylococcus Aureus). Methicillin is an antibiotic, one day the drug was given to a person with the infection which attacks skin and wounds and the bacteria fought it off.

So is MRSA incurable?
No, great big corporations exist in this world called drug companies and they find other antibiotics which can take the place of resistant drugs and fight off the resistant bacteria. In MRSA’s case we have good old Vancomycin. But they find them quite slowly hence the need to prevent antibiotic resistance.

How do we prevent antibiotic resistance?
If doctors give out too many antibiotics it increases the chance that those sneaky bacteria will find a way to stop the antibiotic killing them. For example some antibiotics kill bacteria by preventing the bug generating food in a specific pathway.

If a doctor gives lots of antibiotics out it’s increases the chance that one day a bug will exist which will find another way to generate food, the antibiotic won’t work and furthermore the “superbug” will multiply in that person and then be passed onto another person, etc, etc.

But the drug companies will find new antibiotics?
Wrong, drugs aren’t actually that easily found, hence why we continue to use Sir Alexander Fleming discovery, penicillin. Which was found all the way back in 1928.

But it’s just bacteria, right, not viruses like that swine flu?
Wrong, viruses can become resistant to antivirals too, this might mean if you’re young and healthy and catch swine flu, health care professionals could be unwilling to give you the antiviral medication.

Image: Michelle Meiklejohn /