Antibiotic Resistance in Bacteria: Mechanism,Cause,Prevention

Antibiotic Resistance in Bacteria: Mechanism, Cause, Prevention

Antibiotic Resistance in Bacteria has become a democle’s sword to the entire human race. Where do we heading? Let’s learn.

Antibiotic Resistance is a sub-category of Antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) is the resistance ability of microbes against their medication. It’s a type of drug resistance.

Microbes like fungi, protozoa, viruses develop antifungal, anti-protozoal and anti-viral resistance, respectively, as some bacteria have developed Antibiotic Resistance (ABR).

Types of Antimicrobial Resistance
Types of Antimicrobial Resistance

Antibiotics kill certain types of bacteria over decades since 1928 by the discovery of Penicillin, first true antibiotic. As a result of mutation, anti-bacterial resistance has become stronger.Dr. Alexander Fleming warned us on the possible abuse of his discovery and hinted at the worst consequence of misuse of antibiotics.

I would like to sound one note of warning, Penicillin is to all intents and purposes a nonpoisonous substance so there is no need to worry about giving an overdose and poisoning the patient.

-Dr Alexander Flemming


Antibiotic Resistance in Bacteria Mechanism,Cause,Prevention

Chief Concerns
  • It’s a severe threat against food security and world health and sometimes antibiotic resistant germs causes infections become impossible to get over.
  • Antibiotic resistance can affect any person of any age.
  • Many infections i.e. pneumonia, tuberculosis, salmonellosis are getting much harder to treat day-by-day.
  • In many countries, antibiotics can be bought without a prescription, which has made the situation worse, as bacteria are being habituated to survive antibiotic medication.
  • It can also affect veterinary and agriculture.
  • Scientists predict that Antibiotic Resistance will cause more than 10 million deaths every year at global scale surpassing cancer as the leading cause of mortality.

According to the reports published by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), antibiotic resistance is solely responsible for 25,000 annual deaths in the European Union and 23,000 annual deaths in the U.S. The worst part is that two million individuals from USA develop a drug-resistant infection each year.

Mechanism of Antibiotic Resistance

The bacteria undergo processes of genetic mutation and horizontal gene transfer to become antibiotic resistant.

There are two ways to Bypass Antibiotics by Bacteria

Antibiotics Are Blocked From Reaching Its Target

  • By pumping out the antibiotic from bacterial cell.
  • By decreasing the permeability of the membrane of bacteria.
  • By destroying antibiotic.
  • By modifying antibiotic.

Antibiotics Become Ineffective

  • By camouflaging the target (thus, bacteria gets genetic mutation).
  • By producing alternative proteins.
  • Some bacteria can produce a different variant of a structure it needs. So, antibiotics can’t penetrate its cell wall.
Know the Difference Between Antibody and Antibiotics

What is Antibody?

  • Antibodies are basically basically Y-shaped proteins that the human/animal immune system produces to combat external microbes. Antibodies are generated in response to a new infection and remain in the blood to prevent re-infection.
  • Antibodies are effective against microbes like bacteria, viruses,fungi or other chemicals.
  • There are different types of antibodies like IgM, IgG, IgA, IgD and IgE.

What is Antibiotic?

  • Antibiotic is a medicine that selectively inhibits the growth of microbes.
  • Antibiotics are only effective against bacteria.
  • Some examples of antibiotics are penicillin, Keflex, Zithromax etc.
How Do Antibiotics Function?

Antibiotics function in one of two ways

  • Antibiotics like penicillin, kills the bacteria by interfering with either the bacterial cell wall or its cell contents.
  • Antibiotics stop bacteria from multiplying.
Causes of Antibiotic Resistance
  • Natural Occurrence: Antibiotic resistance can be developed through a natural evolutionary process.
  • Self Medication: Consuming antibiotics without a prescription from a certified medical professional can lead our lives in grab of bacterial diseases and even death, as public are unaware of the importance of the situation due to lack of knowledge.
  • Clinical Misuse: Inappropriate use of antimicrobial medicines promotes the resistance power of microbes. In a study of the American Journal of Infection Control that evaluated physicians’ attitudes and knowledge on antimicrobial resistance in ambulatory settings shows that only 63% faced antibiotic resistance as a problem, while 23% prescribed antibiotics as necessary to avoid failing to provide adequate care.
  • Food Production: In animal husbandry, antibiotics are used as growth supplements and decrease the chance of diseases. Though antimicrobial usage in livestock is limited, the World Health Organization Advisory Group on Integrated Surveillance of Antimicrobial Resistance strongly recommended the reduction of the use of antimicrobials in livestock.
  • Pesticides: It is used mainly against insects. But antimicrobial pesticides are being used in some cases. Those contaminated food are being consumed by us and develops resistance power for them.

There are two types of Antibiotics

  • Narrow Spectrum Antibiotics: Narrow Spectrum Antibiotics can inhibit or kill only specific species of bacteria.
  • Broad-Spectrum Antibiotics: Broad Spectrum Antibiotics inhibits or kill multiple species of bacteria.

Some medical practitioners prescribe  Broad Spectrum Antibiotics for instant relief. Such extensive usage of Broad Spectrum Antibiotics can bring detrimental consequences as the Broad Spectrum Antibiotics kills the beneficial bacteria as well. Apart from that repeated use of Broad-Spectrum Antibiotics will boost a mutation in targeted bacteria resulting development of resistance from Antibiotics in respective species. The use of Narrow Spectrum Antibiotics should be promoted and encouraged to overcome multidrug-resistant (MDR) bacterial infections. 

Prevention of Antibiotic Resistance

Some easy steps to be followed by individuals

  • Washing hands regularly.
  • Learn to recognize symptoms of infection and if it shows positive symptoms, consult a medical specialist.
  • Learn the right ways to use antibiotics.
  • Consume the dose of antibiotics as prescribed.
  • Prepare food safety at home by clinging four steps recommended by CDC: Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill.
  • For immunization, get vaccinated.
Does Antibiotic Use in Animals Affect Human Health?

Nowadays Antibiotics are used so widely in animals to meet the demand of meet Industry. This usage of antibiotics can affect humans through the consumption of antibiotic residues in meat. That is why extensive antibiotic treatment on animals should be stopped immediately across the globe.

Initiatives by World Health Organisation 

World Health Organisation has launched Global Action Plan on AMR in 2015 having 5 objectives

1. To improve awareness and understanding about antimicrobial resistance (AMR)
2. To strengthen surveillance and research
3. To reduce the spread of infection
4. To optimize the use of antimicrobial medicines
5. To sustainably invest in countering antimicrobial resistance

  • World Health Organisation had also started a global campaign World Antimicrobial Awareness Week from 15 – 24th of November since 2015.
  • Global Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance System (GLASS) collects and analyses data regarding AMR globally.
  • Global Antibiotic Research and Development Partnership (GARDP), a joint initiative of W.H.O. and Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), encourages research works to develop new therapy to tackle ABR.
  • The United Nations Organisation has established the Interagency Coordination Group on Antimicrobial Resistance (IACG) to improve communication and cooperation between international organizations for effective global action against this threat to health security.


Antibiotic resistance is a serious threat to global public health which needs to be taken very seriously. Although the global efforts to combat the threat are underway, it is becoming very challenging to create community awareness in developing and underdeveloped countries. World leaders and organisations must come up with more comprehensive strategies to produce faster results.

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