Antimicrobial agents are products used in fighting diseases and infections caused by pathogens. There are different types of antimicrobial agents. Some of these include penicillin, combinations of beta-lactam with a beta-lactamase inhibitor, cephalosporin, monobactams, fluoroquinolones, macrolides and ketolides, and aminoglycosides among others. Bacteria causes bacterial infections whereas viruses are associated with viral infections. Continuous use of antimicrobial agents results in drug resistance of the disease-causing microbes and this can be overcome by proper identification of viral and bacterial infections when selecting the antimicrobial agents. The paper discusses some of the antimicrobial agents, including the differences between bacterial and viral infections and factors to consider when selecting the treatment regime.
Categories of Anti-microbial Agents
Penicillin was first developed in the 19th century and was used in fighting against staphylococcal and streptococcal disorders. Since 1928, numerous scientific studies have led to the development of synthetic penicillin with the objective of addressing the problem of resistance. Penicillin is an important class of antimicrobials and are classified based on their spectra of activity.
Beta-Lactam/Beta-Lactamase Inhibitor Combinations
Beta-lactamase inhibitor performs a crucial role in preventing the synthesis of the beta-lactam by microbes that produce the enzyme, and this improves the antibacterial activity. The combination of beta-lactam with beta-lactamase inhibitor produces a medicinal product suitable for treating beta-lactamase disease-causing micro-organisms like Bacteroides fragilis, S.aureus, and Haemophilus influenza.
These belong to the beta-lactam group and are similar to penicillin. Substitutions that occur in the parent group, 7-aminocephalosporanic acid lead to the production of compounds with varying spectra activities and pharmacokinetic properties. The cephalosporin is classified into different “generations” and the classification is done based on the spectrum of activity of the antimicrobials. The progression from the first generation to the fourth one generally portrays a rise in gram-negative coverage and a reduction in gram-positive activity.
These are a special category of beta-lactams containing four rings but deficient in the fifth and sixth members which are similar to other beta-lactams. Most of the information and available literature relates to Azactam (Aztreonam) because it is the only agent of the monobactam class which is commercially available. Azactam primarily acts against gram-negative organisms including but not limited to Pseudomonas.
Fluoroquinolones have grown to be a popular and dominant category of antimicrobial agents since 1990. The available evidence shows that it has grown more rapidly than any other antimicrobial agent and thus it is of much interest to pharmaceutical companies. The most commonly prescribed drugs of the fluoroquinolone class include ciprofloxacin, moxifloxacin, and levofloxacin.
Macrolides and Ketolides
A prototypical macrolide by the name E-Mycin (Erythromycin) has been applied in treating multiple diseases over the years. However, currently, there is a diminishing use of the drug due to its GI side effects. The toxicity has been applied in treating people suffering from diabetic gastroparesis. Azithromycin and clarithromycin are newer macrolide agents invented which contain improved GI tolerance and longer half-lives. The ketolides class contains only one agent, telithromycin. The antibacterial coverage and the mechanism of action of telithromycin are similar to that of macrolides, although the two products are entirely different.
These classes of drugs remains important in therapeutic interventions despite the fact that there has been the development of many new antibiotics. The aminoglycosides are toxic and this accounts for one of the major drawbacks towards the use of the products. However, a modified dosing regimen has been introduced which requires the use the products in once-daily dosing or even extended-interval dosing for several disorders. The process has provided an approach of making maximum use of the therapeutic effects of the drug while reducing the risks of toxicity at the same time.
Differences between Bacterial and Viral Infections
As the name suggests, bacterial infections are caused by bacteria whereas viral infections are caused by viruses. Therapeutic interventions for different diseases differ and thus it is important to know the infections caused by viruses and bacteria. For instance, whooping cough, ear infections, urinary tract infections (UTIs), and strep throat are bacterial infections. On the other hand, the common cold, bronchitis, HIV/AIDS, flu,sdrWa, and chickenpox are viral diseases. Bacterial infections are more severe and can cause detrimental effects on the body if not treated. However, the good news is that there are antibiotics available for treating bacterial infections. On the other hand, viral infections such as HIV/AIDS have no cure, the only medications available limit the multiplication of the virus.
Why proper identification of viral and bacterial infections is key to selecting the proper antimicrobial agent
Proper identification of bacterial and viral diseases is essential to the selection of a proper antimicrobial agent because it assists in avoiding drug resistance of disease-causing microorganisms. Resistance shows that continuous use of antimicrobial agents has led to the development of resistance among most of the microbes which cause bacterial and viral infections. Therefore, poor identification of bacterial and viral diseases can lead to failure in therapeutic interventions for such disorders. Appropriate identification ensures proper selection of the most suitable vaccine which prevents the microorganisms from causing diseases.
There are various categories of antimicrobial agents. Some of these include penicillin, cephalosporin, monobactams, fluoroquinolones, aminoglycosides, macrolides, and ketolides among others. The list is long and only a few have been discussed. Bacteria cause bacterial infections whereas viruses cause viral diseases. Whooping cough, UTI, strep throat, and ear infections are some examples of bacterial infections while chickenpox, HIV/AIDS, flu, and bronchitis are examples of viral disorders. It is essential to ensure proper identification of bacterial and viral infections when selecting the antimicrobial agent because it helps in countering the problem of drug resistance among disease-causing microbes.