Antibiotics given for free in Florida Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Antibiotik yang Manjur

MEXICO CITY – Sejak ditemukannya penisilin di tahun 1928 hingga dikenalkannya golongan utama antibiotik terakhir di tahun 1960-an, kapasitas manusia untuk melawan bakteri patogen telah berkembang pesat. Akan tetapi, seiring perkembangan zaman, jumlah antibiotik yang dapat menangkal bakteri semakin menurun, dan beberapa bakteri patogen menjadi kebal terhadap hampir semua obat-obatan yang ada. Akibatnya, infeksi yang dahulu dapat diobati sekarang kembali berbahaya.

Kekebalan terhadap antibiotik menyebabkan sekitar 700.000 kematian setiap tahunnya, dengan biaya mencapai puluhan miliar dolar Amerika. Angka tersebut hanya akan terus bertambah seiring berkurangnya kemampuan kita untuk mengobati kanker, transplantasi organ, dan pemasangan alat prosthesis karena kekebalan terhadap antibiotik.

Banyak faktor yang berkontribusi terhadap peningkatan kekebalan antibiotik. Bakteri dapat berkembang biak dan bermutasi dengan cepat, serta menciptakan sesuatu bernama “jaringan genetik” atau “genetic Internet” yang memungkinkan bakteri patogen tertentu untuk “mengunduh” gen kekebalan antibiotik. Selain itu, kebanyakan antibiotik merupakan produk alami dari bakteri tanah, di mana kekebalan antibiotik dapat terjadi secara alami. Ketika antibiotik buatan manusia diperkenalkan dalam skala besar, bakteri dengan kekebalan menjadi lazim.

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