Significant Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria: Terminology

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  • 0:05 Overview of…
  • 0:39 C-DIFF, CRE and DRNG Bacteria
  • 4:07 MRSA, VRE and DR-TB Bacteria
  • 6:59 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Adrianne Baron

Adrianne has a master's degree in cancer biology and has taught high school and college biology.

In this lesson, we will look at the most significant of the antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The diseases that they cause and the specific antibiotics that they are resistant to will be discussed.

Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria

The majority of bacteria in our world don't cause us any harm. There are some, however, that are pathogenic and cause disease processes in our bodies.

We have developed antibiotics in order to kill pathogenic bacteria that have entered our bodies. Over time, bacteria are able to develop immunity to our antibiotics. The bacteria is said to be antibiotic resistant once the antibiotic is no longer able to kill them. Specific antibiotics are used to treat the different species of bacteria and those are the antibiotics to which bacteria develop resistance.

C. diff, CRE, DRNG

There are a few resistant species of bacteria that are of immediate concern in the healthcare field. This is due to the fact that we are quickly running out of antibiotics that are really effective at killing them. This makes the diseases that the bacteria cause very difficult to treat. Let's look at those now.

Clostridium difficile is a bacteria that can cause an infection resulting in extreme diarrhea. The diarrhea can get to the point that it causes severe dehydration and ultimately death.

The ironic thing about this infection is that it usually occurs after a person has finished taking antibiotics. The infection also tends to occur in people that are in the hospital or were just recently released. In addition to causing diarrhea, the infection can also cause other symptoms such as fever, nausea, bloating, bloody stools, and abdominal cramping.

The antibiotic that this bacteria is resistant to is vancomycin. It is also gaining more resistance to fidaxomicin. The infection is likely to return following treatment with either of these antibiotics due to resistance.

Next, we have a group of resistant bacteria. These are the bacteria that tend to live in our intestines. Carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae, or CRE for short, includes familiar species like Escherichia coli and multiple species of Klebsiella bacteria. Infection with these bacteria tend to occur after extended antibiotic use and while in the hospital or nursing home.

The bacteria move from the intestines where they belong and infect other areas of the body. They are known to cause infections in the bloodstream, wounds, and the urinary tract. They may also cause pneumonia and meningitis.

The bacteria have become resistant to a group of antibiotics known as carbapenems. CRE have developed a protein that allows them to break the antibiotic down and make it non-effective. There are not any other options for treatment outside of the carbapenems. This makes infection with CRE often deadly and/or it almost always returns.

Our next bacteria has been steadily gaining resistance to antibiotics and is approaching the point where it cannot be effectively treated. We are almost out of ways to treat the STD gonorrhea.

The Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacteria causes gonorrhea. This infection can cause a greenish-yellow discharge from the genitals, itching, and burning. It can cause more problems if it spreads into other parts of the body such as the reproductive organs. Pregnant women are able to pass gonorrhea to a baby during childbirth, causing complications for the baby.

Gonorrhea used to be treated with a few different antibiotics in the fluoroquinolone and cephalosporin classes of antibiotics. The bacteria is almost completely resistant to fluoroquinolones, and cephalosporins are losing their effectiveness rapidly. As a result, the infection doesn't get completely cleared from the body. The antibiotics-resistant species is known as Drug-Resistant Neisseria gonorrhoeae.


We looked at the bacteria that are of immediate concern due to their emerging resistance to antibiotics and widespread infections. There are other species of bacteria that have gained resistance to antibiotics, but new options for treatment are slowly becoming available and their infections are not as widespread as the ones we just discussed.

When most people think about antibiotics, penicillin is the first one that comes to mind. That's because it is one of the oldest antibiotics. Since it has been around for so long, it is no wonder that there are some bacteria that have developed resistance to it.

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