Several articles were published this week on the latest "superbugs" and the dangers they pose to the public. An antibiotic-resistant bacteria called Klebsiella pneumoniae has taken hold in Houston putting the city at risk for broadly spreading this bacteria which may cause serious infections. A specific strain of this same bacteria in Nevada was found to be resistant to all 26 antibiotics used in the United States. 1
While much of the focus on the growing resistance to antibiotics has been focused on better treatment protocols for doctors and hospitals, we may need to look more broadly at the issue and how to deal with germs before people get sick. First, let's look at how antibiotic resistance actually occurs. As one author put it - "It's basically just Darwin's idea of the survival of the fittest, reduced to a microscopic level. 2"
Bacteria will find a way to resist antibiotics - whether that is changing their structure to resist the antibiotic effects, actually destroying the antibiotic like certain bacteria that can produce enzymes called beta-lactamases that actually destroy penicillin, or by acquiring drug-resistance from other bacteria. While antibiotics will kill many of the bacteria causing an illness, the few bacteria resistant to most, if not all antibiotics will grow and eventually take over.
The increase in antibiotic resistance is largely due to misuse of antibiotics through improper taking of the medication (i.e. stopping a 10-day dose when you start to feel better at day 7) or by taking antibiotics when they are not needed. So what can we do?
Preventing infections in the first place is actually the best solution for dealing with the growing resistance to antibiotics. Fewer infections also reduces the number of antibiotics that are used, reducing the chances of developing more antibiotic resistant bacteria and viruses over time.
We all know rule number one of stopping the spread of disease is to wash our hands with soap and water. For many years, antibacterial products were prevalent based on people looking for an additional layer of protection. However, the FDA eventually ruled that products with certain ingredients, such as triclosan, could no longer be marketed as manufacturers had not proven their products to be safe or that they were actually any better than plain soap and water. Some tests have even suggested that chemicals such as these were actually contributing to the antibiotic resistance problem.
Ultraviolet Light for Disinfection
According to the CDC, "Bacteria will inevitably find ways of resisting the antibiotics developed by humans, which is why aggressive action is needed now." One strategy that can be used to help prevent the spread of bacteria and viruses, is the deployment of proven germ-killing technology that microbes have not demonstrated an ability to build a resistance to since researchers discovered this benefit. Around since the beginning of time, UV can kill all bacteria, including drug-resistant bacteria and there have been no reports of microbes developing resistance to light-based methods. This is because UV light is actually attacking the DNA and RNA of microbes which high doeses of pure energy in the form of photons - hindering its ability to reproduce and ultimately killing the cells when enough UV energy has been delivered.
Violet Defense Technology has solutions that can bring this proven germ-killing light technology to every day spaces, including bathrooms, commercial buildings, doctor's offices, assisted living facilities, and restaurants. Contact us for more information.
2 "How do bacteria become resistant to antibiotics?" 30 January 2001.