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About Antimicrobial Resistance

About Antimicrobial Resistance


What are antimicrobial agents and antibiotics?

  • There are many types of microorganism, such as bacteria, virus, fungi and parasites.
  • Antimicrobial agents, including antibiotics, are drugs that can kill or suppress disease-causing microorganisms.
  • Antibiotics are drugs for treating bacterial infections, either by killing the bacteria or stopping them from growing. There are different types of antibiotics for treating different bacterial infections.
  • Antibiotics are not effective in curing viral infections such as common cold and influenza (flu) and cannot make recovery faster.

What are antimicrobial resistance bacteria?

  • ‘Antimicrobial resistance’ occurs when microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites change in ways that render the medications used to cure the infections they cause ineffective.
  • ‘Antibiotic resistance’ occurs when bacteria change in ways to become resistant to the antibiotics which they are previously sensitive to. These resistant bacteria are sometimes referred to as 'superbugs'.
  • When the bacteria become resistant to most commonly used antibiotics, they are referred to as ‘multi-drug resistant organisms’ (or MDROs). When the medicines become ineffective and infections persist in the body, the risk of spread to others will also increase.

What causes antimicrobial resistance?

  • Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) occurs naturally over time, usually through genetic changes and can affect humans and animals. The emergence and dynamics of AMR genes in bacteria circulating among humans, the environment and animals are not entirely known. AMR develops when microorganisms adapt and grow in the presence of antimicrobials (including properly used antimicrobials). Resistance develops more rapidly through the misuse and overuse of antimicrobial medicines. Resistant bacteria are often acquired through ingestion or contact from colonised or infected animals, food or humans, or their contaminated environment. AMR has no respect for borders and direction and can be transmitted in a bi-directional manner from animals to humans and vice versa.

Can antimicrobial resistance affect me?

  • Yes. This is a major concern because infections due to resistant bacteria are more difficult to treat. It may even be fatal in severe cases. Without effective antimicrobials for prevention and treatment of infections, medical procedures such as organ transplantation, cancer chemotherapy, diabetes management and major surgery become very risky. Infections caused by resistant bacteria can spread to people around you and impose huge threats to community and population health