Scientists Concerned About Growth of Superbugs


Scientists are discussing new research that is raising concerns about dangerous superbug bacteria that are not responding to strong antibiotic drugs, and is helping them understand how bacteria spreads among regional hospitals.

Antibiotics are designed to treat bacterial infections by destroying or slowing the growth of bad bacteria. Usually the body’s immune system can kill harmful bacteria, but if it is weak or compromised by disease or severe infection, doctors may prescribe an antibiotic to help the body heal. Antibiotics have been considered miracle drugs, but scientists are concerned about the overuse of these powerful medications for viruses and non-serious bacteria. Recently the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) raised awareness of a looming health crisis because new bacteria are resistant to most antibiotics.

The CDC cited concerns about the growth of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) infections in Americans. Traditionally, MRSA infections were confined to the hospital environment, but within the past decade they have been detected in schools and gymnasiums. In hospitals, concerns of MRSA development usually are confined to patients who have a catheter in their blood. However, outside in the public environment, MRSA is creating painful skin infections. Some MRSA strains are resistant to traditional antibiotics, causing medical professionals to use stronger medications that the body may not tolerate as well.

Scientists also are concerned about how these superbugs easily spread among regional hospitals. They discovered that a moderate increase in Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococci (VRE) bacteria at one hospital could lead to an increase in VRE at every other hospital in the area. VRE is resistant to antibiotics used to treat serious infections. It can live in the human intestines and female genital tract without causing disease, but can cause infections in the urinary tract, bloodstream, catheters or wounds from surgical procedures.

Learn more about superbugs.


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