According to the World Health Organisation, antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is resistance of a microorganism to an antimicrobial drug that was originally effective for treatment of infections caused by it. Resistant microorganisms (including bacteria, fungi, viruses and parasites) are able to withstand attack by antimicrobial drugs, so that standard treatments become ineffective and infections persist. Alternative medications or higher doses are therefore required – which may be more costly or more toxic – or treatment fails altogether. AMR is therefore a broader issue than bacterial antibiotic resistance alone, but the scope of this chapter is limited largely to the latter – as this is perhaps of greatest concern.
What is Antibiotic Resistance?
The initial evolution of resistant microorganism strains is a natural phenomenon that occurs when they replicate themselves erroneously (a mutation) or when resistant traits are exchanged between them. The use/misuse of antimicrobial drugs then accelerates the emergence of drug-resistant strains.
Facts and figures
Read our Antimicrobial Resistance facts and figures (PDF document.)