Airdate: Jan 22, 2018
Scientist: Amy Pruden
Every year, at least 23,000 people in the US die because of antibiotic resistant infections.
Antibiotic resistance is the ability of bacteria to fight the antibiotic medicines that we take when we try to kill infections. The repercussions of this issue are international. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet
Pruden: Antibiotic resistance is the ability of bacteria to fight the antibiotic medicines that we take when we try to kill off infections. And they do this through their DNA.
Amy Pruden is a Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Virginia Tech.
Pruden: They carry these genes, called antibiotic resistance genes, and these genes enable the ability for them to fight antibiotics. So when we take these medicines, they are not killed. Instead, they degrade the antibiotic, they pump it out of the cell, so that they can live on. Another special ability that bacteria have is to share these antibiotic resistance genes with each other. This is really a unique characteristic that we as humans certainly aren't capable of doing.
The problem is that we are now starting to see diseases come back that we thought we had eradicated. Now, in the US, we see at least 23,000 people dying each year because of antibiotic resistant infections. We know in other countries, such as India, that at least 48,000 newborn babies die because they acquire infections with bacteria that resist antibiotics. We know that different countries have different laws protecting their antibiotics.
We'll hear more about antibiotic resistance in future programs. Pulse of the Planet is made possible in part by the Center for Earth and Environmental Nanotechnology and the National Science Foundation.