believe that the genetic mutations that produced antibiotic-resistant strains of
bacteria came from the improper prescribing of antibiotics and develop in three
ways. The bacteria’s DNA can change in a spontaneous mutation as a reaction to
antibiotics, as in the case of drug-resistant tuberculosis. Another way involves
a form of microbe sex, called transformation, where bacteria exchange DNA. This
process produced Penicillin-resistant gonorrhea. Most feared is the drug
resistance that forms when DNA (plasmid) moves rapidly between touching
bacteria. The results are bacterium that are resistant to multiple antibiotics,
such as those responsible for the Shigella epidemic of 1968, which resulted in
the death of 12,500 Guatemalans in 1968.
Currently, lab tests must be
performed to identify microbes. A sample is collected,
cultured, examined, and the results are ready in two to seven days. Research
is in the works to identify microbes through their genetic patterns.