Killer germs homemade?
In addition to the clinics as a source of infection, other facts contribute to the emergence of increasingly germs against which drugs no longer work well. Often antibiotics are prescribed for diseases that could also be treated with home remedies or in which antibiotics do not help (for example, viral infections such as colds).
To be on the safe side, some physicians also prescribe an antibiotic that targets a broad spectrum of pathogens (broad spectrum antibiotic), although a specific, effective narrow-spectrum antibiotic would be sufficient.
Rapid spread of resistant germs
The trend to prescribe antibiotics frequently and untargeted leads to an increase in drug resistance. For example, tuberculosis pathogens are increasingly spreading in Eastern Europe, against which conventional therapy with a triple combination is ineffective. Open borders and desire for travel also contribute to the spread of resistant pathogens worldwide faster than in the past.
But many patients also help the bacteria to prepare themselves better and better. They do not take the antibiotics throughout the prescribed period, but only until they feel better.
At this point, the already weakened pathogens can recover and then improve their still weak resistance. And next time the drugs will not help anymore. The same applies if the dosage is changed arbitrarily or opened packs "on demand" without consultation with the doctor continue to be used.
Sewage treatment plant, cow & Co.
Through the sewage system of hospitals, resistant bacteria can reach sewage treatment plants. Whether and how far they can be killed or their resistance genes transferred to harmless water bacteria, is not yet clear. In the latter case, they would in turn reach the human via drinking water.
On the other hand, it is certain that the uncontrolled use of antibiotics in animal breeding is dangerous. The drugs, which are not only used for therapy but also as a preventative measure or to promote growth, lead to resistant bacteria that can endanger humans through the food chain.
Although there have been restrictions in EU countries since 2005, the problem has not been solved worldwide. For example, over 40 percent of poultry salmonella are now resistant to at least one antibiotic. If a human is infected with such resistant Salmonella, it can not be treated with this antibiotic.
Antibiotic-resistant cells in genetic engineering
Little known and noted: In genetic engineering, antibiotic-resistant cells are used for research purposes. As so-called marker genes - which are so called because they are to mark genetically modified (transformed) cells - they are placed on a soaked in the respective antibiotic medium.
While all sensitive cells die off, those who have taken the marker gene survive - and with it the desired gene, which is supposed to give the plant a new property.
Gene transfer fears
Meanwhile, it is feared that the bacteria could take up genetic material of the genetically modified plants and incorporate into themselves - and thus themselves become resistant to the corresponding antibiotic. Such a "horizontal gene transfer" is theoretically possible everywhere where already decomposed plant material meets large amounts of bacteria: in the compost, in the silage, in the gastrointestinal tract of humans and animals.
While such gene transfer is highly unlikely, it can not be ruled out. For example, in the EU Deliberate Release Directive of autumn 2002, the use of antibiotic resistance markers has been significantly reduced but not generally banned.