What Causes Antibiotic Resistance? Part 1

The discovery and use of antibiotics is one of the greatest human and veterinary medical advances in history. However, there is concern about bacteria that are resistant to one or more of the antibiotics used to treat infections.

To help us better understand antibiotic resistance, food blogger Alice Choi of HipFoodieMom went in search of answers from experts. In the first video, she visited with Dr. Pritish Tosh with the Infectious Diseases Division at the Mayo Clinic. He explained how antibiotics developed.

“Antibiotics are derivatives of natural compounds. They are derivatives of things that other organisms are already secreting and they’ve been doing this in terms of biowarfare between different organisms for millennia,” Dr.Tosh said. “Conversely, the antibiotic resistance that the bacteria have, have also existed in nature for a long time. And so, one antibiotic-resistant organism when it gets into your gut, I can share that piece of resistance with other bacteria there.”

Dr. Tosh also discussed how antibiotic resistance emerged, noting that when penicillin was first discovered, there was great excitement.

“Now we’re at a point where we are seeing bacterial infections that are resistant to all the antibiotics that we have. Now thankfully, these multidrug completely resistant bacterial infections are very rare. But we are seeing more of them and the concern is that the more antibiotics we use the more we’re going to see these highly resistant bacterial infections and it’s only going to grow unless we do something very decisive,” he said.

Resistance has emerged because of a combination of antibiotics used to treat people and used in agriculture, Dr. Tosh said. One thing people can do is to not use antibiotic hand soap.

“There’s a lot of pressure that physicians feel from their patients when they come in with a cold to get a prescription for antibiotics. And one major thing to do is not have that expectation and really trust your physician to have the mindset that if the physician says there’s not a need for antibiotics then it’s probably going to be okay,” he said.

Antibiotic resistance is something that has developed over time and overuse of antibiotics in human and veterinary medicine has contributed to it. Patients can help by not expecting an antibiotic for every illness.

Other topics in the video series are:

Antibiotic Use in Food Animals

Navigating Food Labels

Proper Kitchen Techniques

For additional resources available Mayo Clinic visit Antibiotics: Misuse puts you and others at risk and Bacterial vs. viral infections: How do they differ?

The image “Antibiotics” by Michael Mortensen is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.