Antibiotics Resistance

A game of chicken: how India’s poultry farms are spawning global superbugs


Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | developments & their applications & effects in everyday life

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Colistin, MCR-1, NDM-1,

Mains level: Rising threat of drug resistance

Towards worldwide drug resistance

  1. India has been called the epicenter of the global drug resistance crisis
  2. Chickens in numerous poultry farm are being given Colistin, to protect them against diseases or to make them gain weight faster
  3. Doctors call Colistin the ‘last hope’ antibiotic
  4. It is used to treat patients critically ill with infections which have become resistant to nearly all other drugs
  5. It is the only drug to treat critically ill patients with a carbapenem-resistant infection

WHO ban 

  1. The World Health Organisation has called for the use of such antibiotics to be restricted to animals
  2. These should be banned as growth promoters

Why stopping their use is necessary?

  1. Their continued use in farming increases the chance that bacteria will develop resistance to them
  2. They would be useless when treating patients

Easy access enabling overuse?

  1. There is no legal requirement (prescription etc.) for buying Colistin in the country
  2. In Europe, colistin is available to farmers only if prescribed by a vet for the treatment of sick animals

Colistin-resistant gene

  1. MCR-1 is one such gene discovered recently
  2. It could be transferred within and between species of bacteria
  3. This means that microbes did not have to develop resistance themselves, they could become resistant just by acquiring the MCR-1 gene
  4. The resistance could be passed to bugs which are already multi-drug resistant
  5. This could lead to untreatable infections
  6. Another such gene is New Delhi Metallo-beta-lactamase 1 (NDM-1), which makes bugs resistant to carbapenem antibiotics

Drug resistance a big threat

  1. Drug resistance has been called one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development
  2. If antimicrobials stop working, doctors won’t have effective drugs to treat deadly infections
  3. Common procedures like joint replacements, Caesarean sections, organ transplants and chemotherapy could also become too risky to carry out

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