MIMS highlights World Antimicrobial Awareness Week 2021
The World Health Organization WHO celebrates Antimicrobial Awareness Week every year. This year it takes place November 18-24 and the theme is "Spread Awareness, Stop Resistance". Today it starts and MIMS draws attention to the campaign with a series of articles.
Text: Ingrid Söderbergh och Nóra Lehotai
Throughout the World Antimicrobial Awareness Week, The Laboratory for Molecular Infection Medicine Sweden, MIMS, at Umeå University – the Swedish node of the Nordic EMBL Partnership for Molecular Medicine – will highlight the important campaign.
“On our website we will present a number of interviews with some of our successful researchers in this area, including Magnus Ölander, Irfan Ahmad, Niklas Arnberg, Karsten Meier and Nabil Karah, who carry out research at the field of virology, antibiotic resistance and discovery, and infectious diseases. We hope that you join us on this journey to “Spread Awareness, Stop Resistance”, says Nóra Lehotai, project coordinator and responsible for communications at The Laboratory for Molecular Infection Medicine Sweden, MIMS, at Umeå University.
Antimicrobials do wonders. We have antiviral, antibiotic and antifungal drugs and vaccines available. They protect against or cure infections which otherwise might prove to be deadly for humans, animals and plants. Penicillins and tetracyclines, some of the most commonly used antibiotics, save millions of lives every year. The discovery of antimicrobials revolutionized not only medicine but our food supply as well. Another important problem is that we only have antiviral drugs against a few of all viruses that cause diseases in humans. We lack antiviral drugs against many hundreds of viruses that cause diseases in humans.
However, with their use, especially misuse, we awoke the defense machinery of these microbes and they learned how to adapt to these agents. Antimicrobial resistance occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other type of microbes develop the ability to adapt to antimicrobial drugs, which have been successful to kill these microbes before but not anymore.
Antimicrobial resistance emerges from all fields of antimicrobial applications. Whether these drugs are applied to treat infections in humans, animals or plants, or as a precaution to stop infections happening, in farming, for example, they contribute to the global problem of rising antimicrobial resistance. The spillover and transmission of resistant genes among bacteria, crossing the species border, cause bacteria to become resistant against our antibiotics while viruses gain resistance against antivirals via mutating when being copied. The consequence is that our drugs stop working and we have nothing left to fight against microbial infections, threatening our lives and food safety.