Upper Respiratory Tract Pharynx And Trachea Biology Essay

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Hypothesis: we expect the Midrand Graduate Institute residents to have a higher incidence of antibiotic resistance due to the students living in a controlled environment that has a crowded setting and they may have a high chance of malnutrition due to them not having a varied diet.

Microbiota is described as microorganisms that occur naturally on a healthy human being and help with keeping the human body safe from pathogens by competitive inhibition. Microbiota may also provide essential functions to the host and are readily found in and on the host. The microbiota and the host have a mutualistic symbiosis. [1][2]

Upper Respiratory Tract (Pharynx and Trachea) microbes are living organisms that reproduce, thrive, and spread quickly and efficiently, increasing their numbers. Microbes found in the upper respiratory tract include bacteria (e.g. Staphylococcus aureus, which causes some staph infections), viruses (e.g., influenza, which causes the flu), fungi, and parasites.

An antibiotic is a medicine designed to kill or slow the growth of bacteria and some fungi. Antibiotics are commonly used to fight bacterial infections, but cannot fight against infections caused by viruses. Antibiotic resistance is the ability of a microbe to grow in the presence of a chemical that would normally kill it or limit its growth. [2]

In 1928 while working with Staphylococcus bacteria, Scottish scientist Alexander Fleming noticed that a type of mold growing by accident on a laboratory plate was protected from the bacteria. The active substance which Fleming called penicillin, was literally an antibiotic-it killed living organisms.

This lead to people using naturally occurring penicillin and then later synthetic penicillin which assisted in saving a lot of people's lives from the bacterial infections that plagued the world. [3]

The antibiotics have been used for years following discovery and due the over usage of these antibiotics, they became less effective on the pathogenic microorganisms.

As microbes evolve, they adapt to their environments. If something stops them from growing and spreading such as an antibiotic they evolve new mechanisms to resist the antimicrobials by changing their genetic structure. Changing the genetic structure ensures that the offspring of the resistant microbes are also resistant.

Antibiotic resistance makes it harder to eliminate infections from the body. As a result of a microbe's ability to survive in the presence of antibiotics, some infectious diseases are now more difficult to treat than they were just a few decades ago. Antibiotics have helped people so effectively that humans are taking advantage of the protective value of medicines through overuse and misuse.

Distinguishing pathogens from the normal flora:

The Gram positive cocci:

Genus Staphylococcus (staph): Staphylococci are Gram positive cocci. Staphylococci form clusters similar to grapes, a characteristic that can help to distinguish them from the Gram positive Streptococci.

The Staphylococci are catalase positive and Streptococci are catalase negative. Staphylococci are indigenous to the skin and the mucous membranes of the upper respiratory tract. Infection may occur if virulent strains gain entry into the body through breaks in the skin or mucous linings.

Genus Streptococcus (strep): Members of this genus of Gram positive cocci are responsible for a wide variety of infections that continue to cause serious problems worldwide. They are generally nutritionally fastidious, meaning that they require a rich medium for good growth. They generally grow in chains and are catalase negative. The most important pathogenic strep group is the (beta) hemolytic group A strep which includes Streptococcus pyogenes. This organism is the causative agent of tonsillitis and bronchopneumonia. [3]


Please note that the results are not accurate because there are more results on the non-residence of MGI compared those of the MGI residence. This may cause the results to be skewed to the non-residents' results. This discrepancy may interfere with the effort of finding out whether the hypothesis is true or not.

As can be witnessed from the results, MGI non-residence have a higher incidence of drug resistance in general compared to those that reside in the residence. The entire results suggest that the residence have an intermediate response to Ampicillin, therefore this could suggest that Ampicillin has a less effective ability to inhibit microorganism growth.

Graph 1 suggests that residents of MGI are mostly susceptible to levofloxacin, oxacillin and erythromycin and that Ampicillin has a higher intermediate effect on the bacterial growth. Graph 2 also suggests that Ampicillin is less effective compared to the levofloxacin, oxacillin and erythromycin. This suggests that bacteria has the ability to grow in the presence of Ampicillin.

A study was done on Ampicillin resistance and it was noted that Streptococcus pneumonia is resistant to Ampicillin. [4] Pharyngitis is a throat infection caused by Group A Streptococcus bacteria that causes inflammation in the throat and makes the throat turn red, it become swollen, it becomes difficult to swallow and is uncomfortable. If a general practitioner were to provide Ampicillin as a treatment, it would prove ineffective because Streptococcus is resistant to the effects of this bacteria and may become a new infection such as scarlet fever or rheumatic fever. [5]

The non-resident group has an overall higher rate of resistance, as compared to the group residing at the official MGI residency. In addition to community acquired resistance and other multi-drug resistant strains, this may be because students residing at the MGI residency have better access to medical facilities. This may have been due to the different bacteria that cause relatively common diseases that have acquired multiple drug resistance.[6] Furthermore, there is a possibility that they have a low variety of food choice as food is more accessible when at home, which increases the likeliness of developing antibiotic resistance.

The study was done in winter periods. A lot of none-res students stay far and often travel by public transport, where a lot of interaction between students and other commuters occurs. The limited space in the taxis and buses did not allow enough ventilation of fresh oxygen, which might have led to non-res students catching a cold and other respiratory diseases. Another factor that might have played a role is the casual use of antibiotics in medical situations such as in cold and flu where they are of no value. One recent report [7] attributed these prescribing patterns to unreasonable patient expectations or demands, inadequate time to explain to patients (or parents) why antibiotics are unnecessary and misdiagnosis of nonbacterial infections. Another study[8]  found that even when physicians know that the use of antibiotics has marginal efficacy in particular circumstances (e.g., viral infections), sometimes antibiotics may be prescribed so that physicians can maintain good relationships with their demanding patients; these physicians are frequently torn between scientific evidence and requests from their patients. Another problem is patient failure to adhere to regimens for prescribed antibiotics.

Prescription drugs are not the only source of antibiotics resistance in the environment. Antibiotics can be found in beef cattle, pigs and poultry. The same antibiotics then find their way into municipal water systems when the runoff from animal farms and contaminates streams and groundwater, which promotes bacterial resistance.

According to a study performed by agriculture S.A [9] The non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in livestock production makes up at least 70 percent of the total antimicrobial production in Africa. Irresponsible use of antibiotics in farm animals can lead to the development of resistance in bacteria associated with the animal or with people who eat the animal. Such resistance can then be passed on to humans by mechanisms of horizontal gene transfer. Horizontal gene transfer (HGT) is a process whereby genetic material contained in small packets of DNA can be transferred between individual bacteria of the same species or even between different species.[10]

The use of antibiotics as feed additives given to farm animals to promote animal growth and to prevent infections (rather than cure infections). The use of an antibiotic in this way contributes to the emergence of antibiotic-resistant pathogens and reduces the effectiveness of the antibiotic to combat human infections. If non-resident students consume genetically modified foods as part of their normal diet they may be consuming a certain amount of antibiotics each time. Antibiotic-resistance genes are used as "markers" in genetically modified crops. The genes are inserted into the plant in early stages of development in order to detect specific genes of interest .e.g. herbicide-resistant genes or insecticidal toxin genes.[10] The antibiotic-resistance genes have no further role to play, but they are not removed from the final product. This practice has met with criticism because of the potential that the antibiotic-resistance genes could be acquired by microbes in the environment. In some cases these marker genes confer resistance to front-line antibiotics.[11]


The hypothesis is incorrect, taking into consideration the uneven pool of results, my conclusion based on these results is that the MGI residents where less resistant to antibiotics because their use for antibiotics was limited, they are not exposed to much of the community-associated infections, they don't have much food choice and they probably practice personal hygiene. The more an individual misuses the antibiotics, the higher the pathogen is most likely to develop resistance which can be passed onto the subsequent generations making it harder for antibiotics to work effectively during second exposure to the same bacteria