Antimicrobial resistance 101

Antimicrobial Resistance 101

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a great threat to the health and wellbeing of not only people, but animals. It is a growing health risk which needs to be addressed at both the global and local levels. AMR refers to the ability of microorganisms like bacteria, fungi, spores and viruses to withstand the effects of antimicrobial agents used to treat and cure their pathogenic effects.

Although antimicrobials like antibiotics have played a big role in reducing diseases and infections since the 1940s, certain bacteria have become resistant to antibiotics. This has led to the treatments being less effective. 

Different mechanisms of antimicrobial resistance

Antibiotic resistance occurs when certain antibiotics have been overused or used incorrectly, leading to bacteria being able to withstand the antibacterial effect of the medication. Some bacteria have a natural resistance to certain types of antibiotics, which is why not every antibiotic is effective against every strain of bacteria. 

Most bacterial strains develop their resistance through natural gene mutations, or by getting resistance genes from other bacteria.  

A microbes ability to withstand antimicrobial agents are as a result of the following mechanisms:

  1. Limiting the uptake of the antimicrobial agent
  2. Modifying the target of the antimicrobial agent
  3. Inactivating the antimicrobial agent 
  4. Active efflux

Some known antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria

  • MRSA – Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus

Staphylococcus aureus is a bacterial strain that is commonly found on the skin and in the nasal cavities of normal, healthy people. While this bacterium is normally harmless, they can become pathogenic when they enter a wound. The problem with this strain is that it is resistant to many antibiotics. One of these medications is methicillin. 

MRSA infections start as tiny red bumps on the skin. These small bumps then progress to painful pus-filled abscesses or boils under the skin that need to be surgically drained. 

  • Streptococcus pneumoniae 

The Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria cause a variety of diseases, including a lung infection known as pneumonia, ear infections, bacteremia, meningitis, and sinus infections. This bacterium is transmitted through bodily fluids, which means that coughing and sneezing in close proximity to another person makes them likely to pick up the bacterium. 

Streptococcus pneumoniae can cause a host of symptoms including fever, chest pains, stiff neck, chills, joint pain, and confusion. The symptoms experienced are dependent on where the infection takes place.

  •  Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae  

Escherichia coli is part of the Enterobacteriaceae family. These bacteria are most commonly found in the digestive tract but can also be found in the environment.  While these bacteria can be present in the digestive tract without causing disease, contaminated water and food contaminated by these bacterial strains causes gastroenteritis.

Vomiting and diarrhoea are two common symptoms of this pathogen.

How HOCl affects antimicrobial resistance

Hypochlorous acid (HOCl) is the active ingredient in all BluLyte products, and is an effective antimicrobial molecule that causes severe cell damage in microbes. Hypochlorous acid is also produced by the body’s immune system to fight pathogens and infections. It does this by affecting a number of important microbial biomolecules and membrane components, making it possible to eliminate these microbes.

Biofilms offer microbes like bacteria and fungi resistance and protection from antimicrobial agents. Luckily, HOCl is effective at breaking down biofilms.  Read more about the effect of HOCl on biofilms here. Additionally, HOCl has broad-spectrum activity against a wide range of bacteria. Because it is electrically neutral, it is able to enter the bacterial cells via diffusion and is able to alter the cell from the inside.  

To learn more about myths around AMR, click here (link to myths around antimicrobial resistance article). At BluLyte, we pride ourselves on keeping up to date with the latest research surrounding the effectiveness of hypochlorous acid on all types of microorganisms. Learn more about our tests, reports and findings here.



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