the westminster news
Published by the students of Westminster School
By Meiyin Ren ’25
Antibiotics are a type of medication that is specifically used to treat bacterial infections, rather than viral ones. They cure infections by destroying or stopping bacteria from reproducing and are applied in several ways, including preventing infections before surgery or treating infections relating to germs.
An Overview: What is antibiotic resistance and how does it develop?
Antibiotic resistance is the state in which bacteria are resistant to antibiotics, in other words, disabling the medication’s ability to treat particular illnesses. Generally, such resistance tends to be caused by the overuse of a drug. Bacteria pass on resistance through the body through horizontal transfer: antibiotic-resistant bacteria transfer the parts of their gene coding for resistance to their offspring, meaning once a gene mutates in favor of resistance, the resistant-bacteria may grow exponentially.
Interestingly, although scientists cannot yet form a whole theory, it has been established that antibiotic resistance can be spread not only within one's body but also among people and animals. For instance, one could obtain antibiotic-resistant intestinal infections when they consume infected animal products. In recent years, this has become a major issue, according to research published in Nature magazine. From 2000-2010, the purchase of antibiotics raised an astonishing 30%, which is an indication of a possible growth of antibiotic resistance.
The Economic Impacts of Antibiotic Resistance
As bacteria become antibiotic-resistant and the bacterial infection has not responded to medication, doctors will be compelled to change from generally used drugs to stronger ones. The medication cost would increase and require a longer duration of treatment. Even with health care, this will become an economic pressure on the average family.
Not only would antibiotic resistance lead to economic impacts on individuals, but it would also influence other research units. To be more specific, as the resistance of certain medications becomes widespread, researchers will then be required to investigate them and further develop new drugs to treat these stronger bacteria. This process of development demands substantial funding and researchers to accomplish, posing a dilemma to hospitals: if more funding is provided to investigate the resistance, hospitals would then have to reduce the budget of other research departments such as radiotherapy due to limited resources.