Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
comic strip overdue media

Monday, December 28, 2009

Hello--is this really a surprise?

Disinfectants 'train' superbugs to resist antibiotics

It makes sense that antibiotic use could make bacteria resistant to antibiotics they've been exposed to, and that all our antibacterial agents in soaps and disinfectant could do the same for those agents as well, right? But then there's this, something I intuitively thought was the case but didn't have the science to back it up--until now:
Scientists in Galway found that by adding increasing amounts of disinfectant to cultures of pseudomonas aeruginosa in the lab, the bacteria learnt to resist not only the disinfectant but also ciprofloxacin - a commonly-prescribed antibiotic - even without being exposed to it.

The researchers report the bacteria had adapted to pump out anti-microbial agents - be they a disinfectant or an antibiotic - from their cells.

The adapted bacteria also had a mutation in their DNA that allowed them to resist ciprofloxacin-type antibiotics specifically.
I must say, though, I find the mechanism fascinating.

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