Consequences of Antimicrobial Resistance

The consequences of antimicrobial resistance are enormous. Antimicrobial resistance is a natural biological phenomenon of microbial cells, which allows them to resist the antimicrobial onslaught of potent antimicrobial agents including antibiotics, preservatives, detergents and antiseptics. However, the irrational use of antimicrobial agents has allowed pathogenic microbes and other previously susceptible organisms to acquire resistance genes and mutate into strains that are recalcitrant to the onslaught of these antimicrobials. The consequences of antimicrobial resistance include:

  • Mortality: Infections caused by resistant pathogens are more often fatal and difficult to treat.
  • Morbidity: There is usually a greater chance for resistant pathogens to spread to other people from an infected patient to uninfected individuals in either the community or hospital environment due to prolong illness and hospitalization.
  • Cost: Antimicrobial resistance waste resources because in such instances; there is always an increased costs of patient care and hospitalization. Newer and expensive drugs are usually used when the length of stay of the patient in the hospital is elongated.
  • Limited options: When an antimicrobial resistant pathogen (e.g. ESBL- and MBL-producing bacteria) is implicated in a particular infection or disease, there is usually a limited therapeutic option for treatment. This is because some of these resistant pathogens are multidrug resistant in nature. This means that the resistant microbes are resistant to a wide variety of antimicrobials. And in this case, there are few new drugs on the horizon, and therapy is undertaken cautiously. The limitation in the availability and choice of antimicrobials for the treatment of infections caused by drug resistant bacteria is due to the fact that these drug resistant pathogens are resistant to many antibiotics because they have mutated or acquired genes that allows them to be multidrug resistant in nature.

Antimicrobial resistance is serious public health concern with economic, medical, social and political implications that are global in scope. Antimicrobial resistance and/or antimicrobial resistant microbes cross all environmental and ethic boundaries. And this phenomenon has allowed resistant pathogens to move from one patient to another; from institution to institution; community to community and even from one country to another country. The increased globalization all around the world coupled with the increased and efficient way of transportation and movement of goods and services has also contributed negatively to the persistent of antimicrobial resistance everywhere.

It is true that the prior administration or usage of antimicrobial agents (e.g. antibiotics) is usually the number one reason there is, for the emergence and spread of drug resistant pathogenic microbes. Nonetheless, the global menace of antimicrobial resistance is majorly perpetuated and/or exacerbated when:

  • Currently or available and effective antimicrobial agents continue to be underused by patients who do not complete their medication or take a full course of their drugs,
  • Available antimicrobial agents are misused through indiscriminate usage and over-prescribing or under-prescribing,
  • Available antimicrobial agents meant for human medicine or purposes are used for non human purposes such as in animal husbandry, fishing, poultry production and other farming or agricultural practices.

When we use antibiotics or antimicrobial agents poorly and irrationally, the following happens:

  • Poor antibiotic use means the survival of resistant microbes.
  • It increases the length of hospitalization.
  • Cost of treatment is increased when we use antibiotics irrationally.
  • Resistant microbes emerge, accumulate and spread in the community and hospital environment when we use antibiotics poorly.
  • With more resistant microbes in the community and hospital environment, and fewer antimicrobial agent discoveries, modern medicine will undergo a significant setback.

Therefore use antibiotics wisely; and always get a doctor’s prescription prior to the usage of antibiotics. This will go a long way in containing the already existing global problem of antimicrobial resistance everywhere.   

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