Microbe ID System - Viral or Bacterial


Go to fullsize imageScientists 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.