Though infections can affect almost any area of the body, on average, about half of the troubles are gastrointestinal, usually in the form of traveller's diarrhea. While this condition usually is not life-threatening, the symptoms certainly can ruin a vacation. Thankfully, most of these troubles are caused by bacteria and can be treated with a simple antibiotic prescription. Within a few days, the pain and those runs fade away allowing individuals to continue enjoying their trip.
The concept of tolerance isn't relevant only in the microbial world. All biological life has the ability to tolerate, including humans. A perfect example of this phenomenon occurs in those able to eat hot, spicy foods. You might think they are simply born with stronger tongues. But that isn't the case. Instead, in most cases, a biochemical modification has occurred in one of the proteins found on the tongue.
It's no secret we are in an antibiotic resistance crisis. Warnings about the looming post-antibiotic era are everywhere and people are being asked to help in whatever way they can. Yet, while we can all work to reduce the amount of antibiotics used in medicine, these achievements represent only a small fraction of the work that needs to be done.
The mere mention of nanotechnology may raise eyebrows. Yet worries should not be based on size but molecular composition instead. If a particle is made from plastic or heavy metals, concern is definitely valid. However, polylactic acid nanoparticles are biodegradable, making them perfect for use both in the environment and also in the body.
A Finnish group of researchers released the results of a three-year study examining the effects of long-term probiotic use on antibiotics and children's health. The results suggest probiotics may offer far more than a means to prevent AAD and C. difficile. They may actually help to reduce the need for antibiotics in the future.
It's been nearly two years since the World Health Organization called the rise in antibiotic resistance a crisis. Since that time, public health officials have sought new answers to prepare for an uncertain future. While the idea of making new and stronger antibiotics continues to explored, its popularity has faded.
For many Canadians, no turkey dinner is complete without the addition of cranberry sauce. The tartness from the red berries offers a perfect complement to the rich meal. But beyond these special moments, cranberries have long been thought to be an excellent way to improve health, particularly in the urinary tract.
Despite all the technology in academic and pharmaceutical institutions, nothing can stop a microbe from figuring out how to best an antibiotic. As such, the mood is sombre at best and apocalyptic at worst. Instead of trying to develop yet another complex mousetrap, the answer lies in looking at weapons of mass microbial destruction already in use in the wild.
The overwhelming majority of these incredibly common infections are caused by viruses -- that is, they will not respond to antibiotics -- so I don't routinely offer antibiotic treatments. When patients hear they won't be getting an antibiotic many become surprised and often upset. I then spend time counselling them about why antibiotics are, in most cases, the wrong treatment choice.
Last week, much ado was made about a fascinating story coming out of the United Kingdom. A thousand year old remedy for a common eye problem -- styes -- was tested in the lab against the pathogen, Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). The concoction was not only effective at killing the bacterium but also outperformed a common antibiotic, vancomycin.
For those studying this unique branch of terrestrial life, the identification of resistance genes in the environment suggested there had to be antimicrobials out there. If this was the case, the Archaea were going to play a role. The only question they couldn't answer was the nature of this role. This past week, a team of researchers from Vanderbilt University may have provided the answer: Horizontal Gene Transfer (HGT).
Antibiotics were the first and still are the go-to means of microbial distraction. However, in light of the continuing rise of antibiotic resistance, their usefulness is limited and we need to explore other options. One such ally is a living organism known to have just as much of a hatred for infectious bacteria: the bacteriophage.
The results suggested bacteria are continually in communication with one another. When times get dire, they attempt to find anyone who might have resistance and be willing to pass it on. Once there is a yes, a crowd appears, all hoping for the same gift. Once they get it, they head off to do the same.
A new study out this week suggests that a third environment could become the next hotbed for antibiotic resistance. This one, however, may take the world by shock and signal that the end for antibiotics is indeed nigh. That resistance contributing environment is you, the human; specifically, your gut.