Antibiotic Resistant Organisms

What is the difference between bacteria and viruses?

  • Bacteria are very small organisms that are normally found all over in the environment, even on people. A lot of bacteria are completely harmless and are actually good for the body. Some bacteria cause infections like strep throat and pink eye. Viruses even smaller than bacteria and cause many types of illnesses like the flu and colds

What is Antibiotic Resistance?

  • Infections that are caused by bacteria are often treated with antibiotics. When taken correctly, antibiotics usually will kill the bacteria and stop the infection. However, when the antibiotics are not taken or prescribed correctly, the antibiotics no longer kill the organisms and antibiotic resistance organisms develop.

How do bacteria develop antibiotic resistance?

  • Some people do not finish all of the antibiotics because they begin to feel better and believe the bacteria that caused the infection are dead. Sometimes antibiotics are prescribed for illnesses that are not caused by bacteria, like the flu. When bacteria are exposed to the antibiotics, they will change enough so the antibiotics do not work very well and eventually they become immune to many different types of antibiotics.

Why are we worried about Antibiotic Resistance and antibiotic resistant organisms?

  • Once the bacteria become resistant to many different types of antibiotics, traditional medicines will not fight and kill the bacteria. These “super bugs” keep causing infections in people and none of the antibiotics will stop them. Even worse, it is possible for these infections to be spread to a lot of people and there will not be any treatment available.

What are some common types of antibiotic resistant organisms?

  • Staphylococcus aureus are one type of bacteria that can cause skin infections and even pneumonia. Methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is one type of antibiotic resistant organism that is being found very frequently in hospital and community settings. It can be spread through close contact with an infected person, especially by skin infections that are not covered and sharing the same towels or sports equipment.