The War between Antibiotics and Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria - Who's Winning, and Why

Posted By Regan Zambri Long, PLLC || 31-Oct-2017

For a number of years now, the medical community and disease control experts have expressed alarm at the growing number of bacterial strains that don’t respond to antibiotic treatment. These so-called “superbugs” can cause prolonged infections, extended illnesses, loss of limbs and even death. Ironically, one of the places you’re statistically most likely to pick up one of these antibiotic-resistant bacteria species is in the hospitals, the places where the sick go to get well. What is currently happening in this ongoing struggle to get ahead of these bacteria?

Why We Have a Problem

When antibiotics like penicillin and others were initially developed, illnesses that were once life-threatening like scarlet fever, pneumonia and strep throat could now be controlled in a matter of days. Unfortunately, many doctors became too liberal with these antibiotics, often prescribing them at the very hint of a possible bacterial infection. Antibiotics also gained widespread use within our food supply as farmers began giving them to their livestock as a preventative measure against disease—not considering that these antibiotics remain and accumulate in the bloodstream, and may even pass through our food.

In an environment inundated with antibiotics, some bacteria mutated into new strains that could survive antibiotic treatment. Although these superbugs first started being discovered as early as the 1960s, the pharmaceutical community fell behind in analyzing these strains and developing new antibiotics to combat them. Meanwhile, the new bugs began to spread unencumbered, wreaking havoc on their victims and baffling doctors who tried multiple rounds of antibiotics to no avail.

Where We Are Now

Several decades now into this crisis, antibiotic-resistant bacteria continue to pose a threat to our health—although hope does appear on the horizon. New scientific advances may soon put these resistors at bay, and hopefully we will learn a lesson from our previous overuse of bacteria. At the moment, the bacteria still appear to be winning the war, but that may soon change.

If you’ve become ill from dangerous bacteria due to hospital neglect or medical error, our Washington D.C. medical malpractice attorneys can help. Call us to learn more.

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