The Crisis in Antibiotic Resistance

Science  21 Aug 1992:
Vol. 257, Issue 5073, pp. 1064-1073
DOI: 10.1126/science.257.5073.1064


The synthesis of large numbers of antibiotics over the past three decades has caused complacency about the threat of bacterial resistance. Bacteria have become resistant to antimicrobial agents as a result of chromosomal changes or the exchange of genetic material via plasmids and transposons. Streptococcus pneumoniae, Streptococcus pyogenes, and staphylococci, organisms that cause respiratory and cutaneous infections, and members of the Enterobacteriaceae and Pseudomonas families, organisms that cause diarrhea, urinary infection, and sepsis, are now resistant to virtually all of the older antibiotics. The extensive use of antibiotics in the community and hospitals has fueled this crisis. Mechanisms such as antibiotic control programs, better hygiene, and synthesis of agents with improved antimicrobial activity need to be adopted in order to limit bacterial resistance.

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