NAMRU commander warns antibiotic resistance a growing threat

Commanding Officer of the U.S. Naval Medical Research Unit 6, Capt. Kyle Petersen said initiatives are under way to discover new treatments as antibiotic-resistant infections grow. | Contributed photo

Commanding Officer of the U.S. Naval Medical Research Unit 6, Capt. Kyle Petersen, said the growth of antibiotic-resistant  microbes is a serious threat that deserves more attention.

His comments were published in the November issue of Naval Medical Research and Development News.

He said that with high-profile infections in the news, such as Ebola and Chikungunya, this other growing concern needs to be addressed. With the use of antibiotics to fight infections over several decades, newer strains of these diseases have developed an immunity to many compounds, leaving fewer treatment options available as these microorganisms learn and adapt.

He said there were very few cases of antibiotic-resistant bacteria 20 years ago. Today, there are many more cases, and in two specific instances, Petersen recalls that the only treatment options available were dangerous and difficult to administer to the patients.

He fears conditions could deteriorate to what they were in the 1930s, when a respiratory infection or simple skin cut could lead to deaths from infections. Fortunately, Petersen said current research initiatives are working to discover new antibiotic measures.

Wound-infection departments have been established in the Navy Medical Research Center and the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in partnership with the Military Infectious Diseases Research Program (MIDRP) to combat this growing issue.

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