What is Antimicrobial Resistance?
AMR is an acronym for Antimicrobial Resistance.
AMR is a natural phenomenon where microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites evolve to become resistant to the drugs that are used to treat them. This means that the drugs become less effective or completely ineffective in treating the infections caused by these resistant microorganisms.
AMR is a growing public health concern worldwide, as it poses a threat to the effectiveness of many commonly used antibiotics and other antimicrobial drugs. It can lead to longer illnesses, higher healthcare costs, and in some cases, even death.
Antimicrobials can be grouped according to the microorganisms they target. For example, antifungals kill fungi, antibiotics are used for bacteria, antivirals treat viruses, and antiparasitics treat parasites.
One of the major contributors to AMR is the overuse and misuse of antimicrobials.
Some examples of this overuse include human health where doctors sometimes prescribe antibiotics empirically based on symptoms a patient presents rather than a confirmed diagnosis. In the same instance, many patients who are oblivious to the risks of developing resistance demand antibiotics from their medical provider. Common medical conditions where antibiotics are prescribed unnecessarily are flu, colds, and COVID-19 which are caused by viruses as opposed to bacteria.
Some common conditions that rely on antimicrobials include (not limited to):
One Health: Antimicrobials in humans, animals, food production and the environment
The use of antimicrobials in animal farming and food production can have a significant impact on human health and the environment, highlighting the importance of a One Health approach. This approach recognizes that human health, animal health, and environmental health are all interconnected.
The use of antimicrobials in animal farming can lead to the development of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in the animals and the environment. This can result in the spread of resistant bacteria to humans through direct contact, consumption of contaminated food, or exposure to contaminated soil, water, and air. Once these bacteria infect humans, it can be difficult to treat them with antibiotics, which can lead to longer illness, increased healthcare costs, and higher mortality rates.
In addition, the use of antimicrobials in animal farming can also have an impact on the environment, as it can contribute to the development of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria in soil, water, and other ecosystems. This can impact the health of wildlife and contribute to the spread of resistant bacteria to humans.
Therefore, it is important to use antimicrobials responsibly and only when necessary, both in animal farming and human medicine. A One Health approach that involves collaboration between human health, animal health, and environmental health sectors is necessary to address the issue of AMR and reduce the risk to humans.