What is in this article?:
- Weed resistance shares alarming pattern with antibiotic drugs
- Latest challenge: MRSA
- On one hand, farmers are left scratching their heads wondering why certain weeds have become resistant to common herbicides, while medical physicians across the U.S. are seeing patients becoming resistant to common, prescription antibiotic drugs.
- In both farming and human medicine, traditional tools used to solve routine problems may no longer be as effective as they used to be.
Latest challenge: MRSA
That’s led to the latest challenge in overcoming a multi-antibiotic resistant Staph aureus (bacterium) called MRSA.
“I see this in my clinic nearly every day,” Wagner said. “It’s very difficult to treat. When you eliminate penicillin, erythromycin and cephalosporin classes, you are limited in your antibiotic options. For those not allergic, we’ve resorted to using an older sulfa antibiotic to treat MRSA because of these limitations.”
Just like glyphosate, Wagner says the synthetic penicillin worked for a while, but over time “it couldn’t easily reach the site of activity.”
“The staph’s penicillin-binding protein lowered its affinity; thereby creating a layer of protection,” Wagner said. “Thus, the penicillin antibiotic doesn’t fully penetrate.”
“It’s very analogous to the way herbicides work,” Baumann said. “The site of activity for a herbicide may be altered in resistant species, causing the herbicide to be ineffective. For example, in an acre, there may be one seed in millions that has an altered binding site. When you control 99 percent of all of the other targeted weed species, the genetic anomaly flourishes and all heck breaks loose.”
In the meantime, while research continues to develop new tools to be used in fighting the problems, both Baumann and Wagner offer advice to their respective audiences in the farming and medical fields.
“From an agriculture perspective, that being farmers, we need to go back to some of the old chemistry, or use new products with different sites of action than the product in question," Baumann said. “We need to employ preventive instead of remedial approaches because remedial, post-emergence products may not be available to you. Rotation of herbicides is one recommendation. Or, at least use an alternative site of action herbicide somewhere in the program, in conjunction with glyphosate products to pick up the resistant biotype.”
Meanwhile, Wagner says both patients and medical doctors need to work together with treatment protocols involving both pharmacological and non-pharmacological measures.
“The first few days of nasal or sinus congestion may resemble a sinus infection, but more likely it is a viral upper airway infection,” he said.
“More times than not, patients are better off waiting seven to 10 days.
Usually this type of viral infection improves over this time span.”
If the patient’s symptoms persist or worsen, consider antibiotic therapy at that time.
“By the same token, all medical providers need to take time in the exam room and educate their patients,” Wagner said. “The common cold is caused by a virus which resolves on its own and a sinus infection has a bacterial etiology and improves with antibiotic therapy. Furthermore, there are many preventive practices a patient can employ to minimize the risk of contracting MRSA infection.”