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Doctors enlisted to turn the tide on antibiotic resistance

Behavior change — among prescribers and patients — can combat resistant microbes

1:24pm, September 19, 2014
The bacterium Clostridium difficile

LOW-TECH BACTERIA BATTLE  Clostridium difficile (shown) is common in hospitals and is hard to treat.

It is not difficult to make microbes resistant to penicillin in the laboratory by exposing them to concentrations not sufficient to kill them…. 

—Alexander Fleming, discoverer of penicillin, in his 1945 Nobel Prize lecture

Fleming’s remarks were spot-on. Since the heady days of penicillin’s discovery, an overuse of antibiotics has spawned bacterial resistance to the drugs and threatened to erase decades of success. Every prescription that misses the mark or throws excess drugs at a bacterium gives bystander bacteria a good look at those antibiotics and a head start in resisting their effects, as Fleming noted.

Some microbes are changing faster than antimicrobials can kill them. As a result, it’s once again possible to get a bacterial or fungal infection for which there is no sure cure.

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