The dangers of antimicrobial resistant infections
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a growing global health threat that could potentially lead to millions of deaths in the coming years. The emergence of antimicrobial resistance is a natural process that has been accelerated by the overuse and misuse of antibiotics and other antimicrobial drugs. It is a very serious global public health problems. AMR is the ability of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites to resist the effects of antimicrobial drugs that are used to treat infections. As a result, infections become more difficult, if not impossible, to treat, which can lead to longer hospital stays, increased healthcare costs, and, in severe cases, death. The dangers of antimicrobial resistant infections are becoming more apparent as more and more people are affected by these types of infections. This article will discuss the dangers of AMR infections, the causes of AMR, and what can be done to prevent and control it.
Dangers of AMR Infections
AMR infections are particularly dangerous because they are difficult to treat, and traditional antibiotics and other drugs may not be effective. If left untreated or improperly treated, AMR infections can lead to severe complications, such as sepsis, organ failure, and death. In addition, AMR infections can spread rapidly in healthcare settings, including hospitals, long-term care facilities, and nursing homes, putting other patients at risk.
Here are some of the dangers of antimicrobial resistant infections:
- Increased mortality rates
Antimicrobial resistant infections can be deadly, and the mortality rates associated with these infections are higher than those of non-resistant infections. A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that patients with antimicrobial resistant infections had a 50% higher risk of dying than patients with non-resistant infections.
- Longer hospital stays
Patients with antimicrobial resistant infections often require longer hospital stays, which can lead to increased healthcare costs and a strain on hospital resources. Longer hospital stays can also increase the risk of other complications, such as hospital-acquired infections.
- Increased healthcare costs
Antimicrobial resistant infections are expensive to treat, and the costs associated with treating these infections are much higher than those associated with non-resistant infections. In the United States, it is estimated that the annual cost of treating antimicrobial resistant infections is $20 billion.
Examples of AMR infections
- One of the most well-known examples of AMR is Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a type of bacteria that is resistant to several antibiotics. MRSA infections can occur in the skin, bloodstream, and other parts of the body, and can be difficult to treat. In severe cases, MRSA infections can lead to sepsis, pneumonia, and even death.
- Another example of AMR is multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB), a strain of TB that is resistant to two or more of the most effective drugs used to treat the disease. MDR-TB is particularly difficult to treat, and patients may require treatment for up to two years with second-line drugs that are less effective and more toxic.
Causes of AMR
The development of AMR is primarily caused by the overuse and misuse of antimicrobial drugs.
When antibiotics and other drugs are used unnecessarily or improperly, they can kill some, but not all, of the bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites causing an infection.
The surviving microorganisms may then mutate or acquire genetic material that enables them to resist the effects of the drugs.
As a result, the drugs become less effective, and infections become more difficult to treat.
Overuse of antimicrobial drugs is particularly common in agriculture, where antibiotics are often used to promote growth and prevent disease in livestock.
The use of antibiotics in agriculture can lead to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that can be transmitted to humans through contaminated food, water, or direct contact.
Other factors that contribute to the development of AMR include:
- Poor infection control practices,
- Inadequate surveillance systems, and
- Not having new antimicrobial drugs being manufactured.
Prevention and Control of AMR
Preventing and controlling AMR requires a multifaceted approach that involves everyone from healthcare providers to policymakers and the public.
Some key strategies for preventing and controlling AMR include:
- Reducing unnecessary use of antimicrobial drugs: Healthcare providers should only prescribe antibiotics and other antimicrobial drugs when they are truly necessary, and patients should follow the prescribed regimen exactly as directed.
- Improving infection control: Healthcare facilities should have effective infection control practices in place, including hand hygiene, environmental cleaning, and appropriate use of personal protective equipment.
- Enhancing surveillance systems: Better surveillance systems are needed to track the incidence and prevalence of AMR, monitor the effectiveness of antimicrobial drugs, and identify emerging resistant strains.
- Developing new antimicrobial drugs: More investment is needed in the development of new antimicrobial drugs, as well as alternative therapies such as phage therapy, which uses bacteriophages to kill bacteria.
- Educating the public: The public should be educated on the appropriate use of antimicrobial drugs, the risks of AMR, and the importance of following infection prevention and control measures.
- Promoting responsible use in agriculture: Efforts are needed to promote responsible use of antimicrobial drugs in agriculture, including reducing the unnecessary use of antibiotics in livestock and improving animal welfare practices.
- International cooperation: AMR is a global problem that requires international cooperation and collaboration. Countries must work together to develop and implement strategies for preventing and controlling AMR, sharing information, and promoting best practices.
Antimicrobial resistance is a significant public health threat that can affect anyone, regardless of age, sex, or geographical location. It can result to longer hospital admissions, higher costs on healthcare, and an increase in mortality rates. The overuse and misuse of antimicrobial drugs are the primary causes of AMR, and efforts are needed to promote responsible use, improve infection control, enhance surveillance systems, develop new antimicrobial drugs, educate the public, promote responsible use in agriculture, and promote international cooperation.
References - https://www.gavi.org/vaccineswork/antimicrobial-resistance-now-causes-more-deaths-hivaids-and-malaria-worldwide-new?gclid=CjwKCAjwzuqgBhAcEiwAdj5dRmiEQl6zTZ3s1LVfKRdmR9FFGzC4qPbokKRVmxbBPlzFKtqWqg2ypRoCavQQAvD_BwE - https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/antibiotic-resistance - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4232501/