The emergence of antibiotic resistance in bacterial pathogens is an inevitable consequence of antibiotic use. Despite repeated warnings, negligent antibiotic use and poor infection-control practice have led to the continuing development of extensive resistance problems worldwide. Multidrug-resistant pathogens are now characterized by their heterogeneity, increasing virulence, resistance even to reserve agents and spread within and between hospitals and the community. Examples are glycopeptide-resistant meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and enterococci, extended-spectrum β-lactamase- and carbapenemase-producing coliforms, and toxin-hyperproducing Clostridium difficile. Effective national and international programmes of control to combat these problems are urgently needed. The potential for success of such coordinated efforts has been demonstrated by the recent dramatic reductions in MRSA and C. difficile infections in England. © 2010 Elsevier B.V. and the International Society of Chemotherapy. All rights reserved.
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