Can You Get A Bacterial Infection From Antibiotics
The Antibiotic Apocalypse Explained
What would you say if we told youthat humanity is currently making a collaborative effort toengineer the perfect superbugé A bug that could kill hundredsof millions of peopleé Well, it is happening right now. We are in the processof creating a superbacterium. Bacteria are among the oldestliving things on this planet. The smallest thing we still consider life,they are masters of survival and can be found everywhere.
Most bacteria are harmless to us. Your body hosts trillions of them,and they help you to survive. But others can invade your body,spread quickly, and kill you. Millions of people used to die as a resultof bacterial infections. Until we developeda superweaponâ€”antibiotics. Together with vaccinations, antibioticsrevolutionized medicine and saved millions of lives. Antibiotics kill the vast majority ofsusceptible bacteria fairly quickly,
leaving only a small group of survivors that our immune systemthen deals with easily. How do antibiotics do thisé Imagine a bacterium asa very complex machine with thousands of complex processesgoing on that keep it alive and active. Antibiotics disruptthis complex machinery, for example, byinterfering with its metabolism, slowing down their growth significantly,so they are less of a threat.
Other antibiotics attack DNAand prevent it from being replicated, which stops bacteria from multiplying,ultimately killing them. Or by simply ripping the outer layerof the bacteria to shreds, so that their insides spillout and they die quickly. All of this without bothering body cells. But now, evolution is makingthings more complicated. By pure random chance, a small minorityof the bacteria invading your body might have evolved a wayto protect themselves.
For example, by interceptingthe antibiotics and changing the moleculeso it becomes harmless. Or by investing energy in pumpsthat eject the antibiotics before they can do damage. A few immune bacteriaare not that big a deal, because the immune systemcan take care of them. But if they escape, theymight spread their immunity. How can bacteria spread immunityé
First of all, bacteriahave two kinds of DNA: the chromosome and smallfreefloating parts called plasmids. They can hug each otherand exchange those plasmids to exchange useful abilities. This way, immunity can bespread quickly through a population. Or, in a process called transformation,bacteria can harvest dead bacteria and collect DNA pieces. This even works betweendifferent bacteria species