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Impact of Human Behaviour on the Rise of Superbugs

Info: 2098 words (8 pages) Essay
Published: 23rd Sep 2019 in Biology

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What type of organisms cause infection and why? Describe with some examples. Are these organisms prokaryotes or eukaryotes?

Some agents that cause infections to the human body are the living organisms of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. Virus’, although they don’t have the characteristics of living things, they too can also cause infections. These organisms cause infection when they are able to enter the body and multiply. We can identify organisms as either eukaryotes or prokaryotes. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, eukaryotes are ‘an organism consisting of a cell or cells in which the genetic material is DNA in the form of chromosomes contained within a distinct nucleus.’ However, Prokaryotes are slightly different, a prokaryote is ‘a microscopic single-celled organism which has neither a distinct nucleus with a membrane nor other specialized organelles.’ Bacteria is classified as a prokaryote because it does not contain a nucleus. Fungi and protozoa are eukaryotes because their cells contain a nucleus. An example of a bacterium that causes infection could be Mycobacterium. Mycobacterium is commonly known for causing tuberculosis and leprosy in humans. An accurate example of a type of fungi causing an infection would be trichophyton rubrum which causes the infection, athletes foot. Amebic dysentery (bloody diarrhea) is caused by the protozoa: Entamoeba histolytica.

What are antibiotics, what type of infections do they treat and how do they act.

Antibiotics could be defined as a ‘substance that can inhibit or destroy susceptible microorganisms’ as according to the Oxford dictionary. Antibiotics can treat a bacterial infection but cannot treat a viral infection. In response to a bacterial infection, antibiotics can work in three ways to either kill or slow down the production of the bacteria. They act by attacking the cell wall of bacteria or the coating surrounding it. They can stop or slow down the reproduction / multiplying of bacteria. Thirdly they can have a negative effect on the way cells functions by blocking protein production in the bacteria

What is the biological definition of a superbug?

A superbug is usually defined as ‘a microorganism that’s resistant to commonly used antibiotics’ according to The Molecular Bioscience, UQ.

What do you think it means for a disease to be resistant to a drug, such as an antibiotic? List some issues related to treating a disease caused by bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics.

Bacteria can adapt and evolve to become resistant to antibacterial drugs. After a bacteria is exposed to an antibiotic the bacteria may change in form so they can, therefore, resist an attack on their cell walls or they will even go to the extent to produce specific enzymes to kill the antibiotics. There are issues that come with antibiotic resistance. For instance, it will take longer for the body to fight off the infection. You become more likely to develop complications in the infection later on. By remaining infected or longer, it increases the likelihood of the infection being transmitted, which magnifies the problem of antibiotic resistance.

Discuss what our lives might be like if most bacteria adapted to the presence of antibiotics and became resistant to them.

It could get to a point in time where most bacteria have evolved to antibiotics and this could have disastrous effects on the world as we know it. It would become too dangerous to perform surgeries such as c-sections or transplants for the fear of developing a superbug infection. If most bacteria became resistant doctors would have fewer antibiotics to draw upon. Humanity would go back to times when there were no such antibiotics and people succumbed to the common infections that are easily treatable right now. The World Health Organisation (WHO) states that ‘antibiotics resistance is one of the greatest threats to global public health today’.

Discuss how human behavior has contributed to the rise of superbugs and how overuse and misuse of antibiotics are risky, both for those who overuse or misuse them for human survival.

The Institute of Molecular Bioscience made a claim that ‘Globally, the major cause of drug resistance is the overuse of the drugs.’ This isn’t specifically targetted at developing countries, India and some small Asian countries are the worst when looking at data for overuse and inappropriate prescription. There are many places around the world where antibiotics are available over the counter. This confuses people into thinking the minute they feel sick that antibiotics can solve that. The Institute of Molecular Bioscience made a further claim stating ‘probably two-thirds of antibiotics are inappropriately prescribed,’ doctors will prescribe antibiotics to someone who has a simple cold or flu. It is believed that doctors may overprescribe antibiotics because the patient may be demanding some sort of medication to make them feel better, or the doctor could possibly feel as if they have to prescribe their patients some sort of medication. Antibiotics are also being widely misused. When patients take antibiotics they are prescribed a dosage. This dosage tells the quantity they are to take for a certain amount of time. People will take the medication until the point where they feel ‘better’ and decide that they don’t need to take the antibiotics anymore, even though they may have for example ⅓ of the prescription left. What they don’t realize is that when they don’t finish they may not have efficiently killed every single bacterium. There may be one or a few still lingering around. These tend to be the strongest bacteria as they have endured for the longest. As soon as the patients stop taking the medication the bacteria begins to multiply again, thus making the person sick again or even sicker than they were before.

Currently, approximately 700 000 people die from superbug infections each year and that number will continue to rise in the future. Discuss two ways Australian (scientists/politicians) are trying to fight the war on superbugs.

One professor at the Unversity of Queensland Institute of Bioscience is dedicating his time to find a way to fight the war on superbugs. Professor Matt Sweet is the director of  IMB’s Centre for Inflammation & Disease Research, they are researching antibiotic resistance in terms of the immune system. His team is trying to understand how the immune system responds to infections, to then come up with a treatment that requires no antibiotics at all. As said by Professor Matt Sweet ‘We are trying to manipulate or ‘train’ the immune system to better defend against infection.’ They are essentially trying to recreate what vaccines do, but instead, the immune system would do it its self. As experience has shown us vaccines do a wonderful job at protecting humans against pathogens, so there are high hopes coming into this new idea of tackling superbugs. In 2018 the government invested quite a sum of money towards a trial to reduce the overprescribing of antibiotics by general practitioners. They found that the best method doctors responded to was due to letters that compared their prescription rate to that of there peers.This peer comparison had the most reduction ti the rescription rate when compared to other methods such as other methods such as a letter giving them information to education.

 

 

 

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