Antibiotic resistance (ABR) develops when an antibiotic drug loses its effectiveness against bacteria. Through genetic mutation and selection, bacteria can evolve defenses against a given antibiotic. Some “superbugs,” such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), require difficult, costly treatment; in some cases, treatment may not even be possible or feasible.
Although antibiotic misuse and overuse in humans and animals has stoked that fire and shortened the time between introduction of a given antibiotic and formation of resistance, bacteria would have eventually developed a tolerance for the drugs even with thoughtful antibiotic use. “When it comes to antibiotic use and bacterial resistance, the only thing we really know for certain is that less use is better; however, zero use is clearly not an option,” Dr Scott said.
“Most of my research has been on studying the use of antibiotics and the resistance and potential risk to public health that result,” he said. “I’ve used a multitude of scientific approaches from molecular biology to ecology and everything in between, and I’ve looked at the changing risk that is associated with different uses of different antibiotics and different regimens. But behind all of that was this nagging suspicion in the back of my mind that no matter what we find, none of it will matter unless we actually understand what motivates people to use antibiotics in the first place, what the barriers are to any potential behavioral change.”
One aspect of Dr Scott’s research, in collaboration with Dr Alex McIntosh, professor in the Department of Sociology at Texas A&M University, examined the social psychology of antibiotic use among veterinarians. They found that several factors influenced why and how antibiotics are used, including policy, economics, social norms regarding treatment, and a belief that antibiotics are “a good thing to do.”
They have identified that numerous “stakeholders”—including physicians, patients, veterinarians, livestock producers, pharmaceutical companies, public health agencies, and healthcare and consumer advocacy groups—have both an interest and role in countering ABR. This dynamic has the potential to facilitate an unofficial town-meeting style of democracy among the stakeholders that would allow each group to have a direct impact on the creation and implementation of ABR policy.
However, despite their mutual interest in combating resistance, members of these stakeholder groups are not always in agreement: one group suggesting that antibiotics are overused, and the other group countering by saying that the current use of antibiotics is essential to preserve health. According to Dr Scott, this division appears to be growing.
“As you use more and more antibiotics, you will have fewer and fewer bacteria that are susceptible,” he said. “My use today will diminish in some way your use in the future; these are the economics of a finite resource.”
“We always need to seek alternatives to antibiotics because of the documented potential for any antibiotic to sellect for resistance to almost any other antibiotic,” said Dr Scott.
THESE ARE SOME GREAT INSIGHTS BY DR. SCOTT. HE DOESN'T GO AS FAR AS STATING THAT PHYSICIANS ARE THE PROBLEM HERE, BUT THAT'S EASY ENOUGH TO PICK UP FROM EVERY OTHER ARTICLE BEING WRITTEN ON THE TOPIC OF ANTIBIOTIC RESISTANCE TODAY. I THINK THE REAL MESSAGE HERE IS THAT THE SIMPLE ACT OF USING ANTIBIOTICS LEADS TO ANTIBIOTIC RESITANCE, PERIOD.
IT IS IMPORTANT TO ALWAYS SEEK AN ALTERNATIVE TO ANTIBIOTIC USE!