Super Bugs

Superbugs are viral infections caused by bacteria that are resistant to common antibiotics. Understanding the gravity behind having one of these infections can help you appreciate the need to prevent exposure and infection.

The term superbug was originally coined “by the media to describe bacteria that cannot be killed using multiple antibiotics.” However, “doctors often use phrases like ‘multidrug-resistant bacteria’ rather than ‘superbug.’ That’s because a superbug isn’t necessarily resistant to all antibiotics.”

Superbugs aren’t specific types of bacteria; all bacteria species can turn into superbugs. “Misusing antibiotics (such as taking them when you don’t need them or not finishing all of your medicine) is the single leading factor contributing to this problem, the CDC says. The concern is that eventually doctors will run out of antibiotics to treat them.”

Or worse, they won’t react to antibiotics at all. “When used properly, antibiotics can help destroy disease-causing bacteria. But if you take an antibiotic when you have a viral infection like the flu, the drug won’t affect the viruses making you sick.

Instead, it’ll destroy a wide variety of bacteria in your body, including some of the ‘good’ bacteria that help you digest food, fight infection, and stay healthy. Bacteria that are tough enough to survive the drug will have a chance to grow and quickly multiply. These drug-resistant strains may even spread to other people.

Over time, if more and more people take antibiotics when not necessary, drug-resistant bacteria can continue to thrive and spread. They may even share their drug-resistant traits with other bacteria. Drugs may become less effective or not work at all against certain disease-causing bacteria.”

In order to prevent the spread of superbug infections and diseases, it helps to know the common superbugs to watch out for and how to limit your exposure.

1. Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE): CRE is a family of bacteria that is typically found in our stomachs, but some of these bacteria can cause life-threatening blood infections and are resistant to all antibiotics.

2. Multidrug-Resistant Acinetobacter: Acinetobacter baumannii is the superbug strain of this bacteria and it can be found in soil and water and on the skin. It develops a resistance to antibiotics more quickly than other bacteria and is most common in hospitals.

3. Neisseria gonorrhoeae: This strain of bacteria causes the STD gonorrhea, which has previously been easily treated with antibiotics. However, Neisseria gonorrhoeae is becoming more and more resistant to them.

4. MRSA: MRSA or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus is a difficult-to-treat strain of staph infection. Although MRSA is antibiotic-resistant, there are still some antibiotics it responds to and the frequency of life-threatening MRSA has declined.

5. Clostridium difficile (C.diff): C. diff is a bacteria found in your intestines that can overgrow and cause severe diarrhea. It can be passed among individuals through spores in bathrooms and on clothing and is not always able to be treated with antibiotics. If not treated, C. diff can be fatal.