Antibiotic resistance is a growing problem in the United States and worldwide. Overuse of antibiotics for non-antibiotic-responsive health conditions such as influenza, as well as antibiotic abuse in farming, has caused a situation in which bacterial evolution yields stronger germs: bacteria that are resistant to the once-powerful effects of antibiotics. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), two million Americans contract a hospital-acquired infection every year, and more than 70% of the bacteria involved in these infections are resistant to at least one drug. Scientists and governments have been discussing potential solutions (including stepping up the arms race against bacteria), and although no long-term answer has been found, small advances take place periodically.
Methicillin-resistance staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) has received a lot of press over the past several years, particularly as well-known athletes such as NBA star Grant Hill and Tampa Bay Buccaneers Carl Nicks and Lawrence Tynes have contracted MRSA in their respective locker rooms. However, MRSA is not the only problem; multi-drug-resistant bacteria of all kinds plague hospitals and communities alike. These bacteria include fluoroquinolone-resistant E. coli, ESBL-producing bacilli, vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus spp, multi-drug-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PA-MDR), and Acinetobacter baumannii. Research published in the July-August issue of Acta Médica Portuguesa indicates that there is one multi-drug-resistant bacterial infection for every 400 pediatric hospital admissions.
Although medical students -- tomorrow's doctors -- know that antibiotic resistance is a problem, they are unsure how best to deal with it. In particular, individuals currently in medical school feel that they should receive more training regarding antibiotics and proper antibiotic treatment selection. Research points to infection control and antibiotic prescription restrictions as crucial in the fight against multi-drug-resistant bacteria. At a recent meeting of the European Respiratory Society, researchers from the UK presented the findings of their successful intervention to reduce antibiotic overprescription. Additional support in the fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria may come from other types of anti-bacterial compounds, such as natural products, biofilm disruptors, gallium-based drugs, light-based antimicrobial therapies, and cyclodextrin inhibitors of pore-forming toxins.