What is Antimicrobial Resistance?

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What is Antimicrobial Resistance?

In simple terms, antimicrobial resistance just means that germs have come up with a way of stopping a drug from killing or damaging them. The principle behind the development of antimicrobial resistance is 'Survival of the Fittest'. Most germs multiply very rapidly. By chance (due to a genetic mutation) a germ may become resistant to an antimicrobial. As susceptible germs are killed by antimicrobial drugs, resistant microbes survive. The next time infection occurs the antimicrobial drug may not work if the germs are resistant.

Because each germ is naturally susceptible to different antimicrobial drugs, different germs develop resistance to different drugs. Although all germs can potentially develop resistance, there is more evidence for the development of resistance in bacteria so in the following questions we will look at the case of the bacteria to illustrate the principles of resistance.

Related Resources
AWARE (Alliance Working for Antibiotic Resistance Education)
When the Antibiotics Quit Working...
Antimicrobial Resistance
Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics (APUA) Website
Antibiotics: A fading wonder
Promoting Appropriate Antibiotic Use in the Community
Antimicrobial Resistance Webpages
The Real Millennium Bugs
Antibiotic resistance factsheet for schools
Bacterial Resistance to Antibiotics
Antibiotic Resistant Germs
The Microbial Threat
The Path of Least Resistance
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Dangerous Diseases & Epidemics
Overcoming Antimicrobial Resistance
Factsheet - Antimicrobial Resistance
Resistance to Antibiotics & Other Antimicrobial Agents
The facts about Vancomycin-resistant enterococci
OMNI Resources about Antimicrobial Resistance
The Bug Investigators
Improving antibiotic prescribing is an urgent priority - how low can we go?
Interventions to improve antibiotic prescribing practices for hospital inpatients (Cochrane Review)
Interventions to improve antibiotic prescribing in ambulatory care (Cochrane Review)

Date of Posting: 10/01/2003
Date of next Review: 07/01/2005

Related Questions:
How do Bacteria become resistant to antibiotics?
Do people become resistant to antibiotics?
Why is antimicrobial resistance a health problem?
Is antimicrobial resistance only a problem in the UK?
How will my doctor treat my infection if one antibiotic doesn't work?
How can I help and when should I take antibiotics?

MeSH keywords:
Drug Resistance, Bacterial; Drug Resistance, Microbial; Drug Resistance, Fungal; Drug Resistance, Viral

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