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Categories of Antimicrobial Agents
Different types of organisms (fungi, bacteria, viruses, etc.) cause different diseases, which implies that each one requires a particular antimicrobial agent to be successfully treated. Antimicrobial agents are used to preventing infections caused by pathogens and can be categorized as follows:
- Antibacterial drugs. These drugs are meant to stop the pathogenic action of various kinds of bacteria.
- Antiviral drugs. They are used to stop the pathogenic action of viruses.
- Antifungal drugs. Such agents are needed to prevent the fungal action in the host.
- Antiparasitic drugs. They are intended to hinder the growth of pathogenic parasites (Kelesidis & Falagas, 2015).
However, this is not the only possible way of classification. Antimicrobials can also be categorized by their ability to kill bacteria or inhibit their growth:
- Bactericidal drugs kill harmful organisms (penicillins, quinolones, cephalosporins, aminoglycosides, etc.).
- Bacteriostatic drugs delay or inhibit bacteria growth or hinder their replication (sulfonamides, tetracyclines, macrolides, etc.).
- Some drugs can be referred to both groups since they act differently depending on the state of bacteria, duration of exposure, dosage, and other factors (aminoglycosides, metronidazole, fluoroquinolones, etc.) (Khurshid et al., 2016).
Another way to categorize antibacterials is by the spectrum of bacteria that react to them:
- Narrow-spectrum drugs are used only against particular species of bacteria since their activity is highly limited (polymixins, nitroimidazoles, glycopeptides, aminoglycosides, etc.).
- Intermediate-spectrum antibacterials are also limited inactivity but can affect several types of microorganisms simultaneously (ticarcillin, carbenicillin, ceftiofur, cephalosporins, etc.).
- Broad-spectrum drugs are active both against Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria (fluoroquinolones, tetracyclines, 4th-generation cephalosporins, phenols, etc.) (Kelesidis & Falagas, 2015).
Finally, antibacterials may be divided by the site of their activity:
- inhibitors of cell wall synthesis;
- inhibitors of cell membrane function;
- inhibitors of protein synthesis;
- inhibitors of nucleic acid synthesis;
- inhibitors of other metabolic processes (Cansizoglu & Toprak, 2017).
Viral and Bacterial Infections
Table 1. Bacterial vs. Viral Infections.
|Characteristics||Bacterial Infection||Viral Infection|
|Size||Large: app. 1000 nanometers||Small: app. 20-400 nanometers|
|Mode of Transmission|| ||The same as with bacterial infections|
|Signs and Symptoms|| || |
|Treatment|| || |
|Diagnostic Examinations|| ||The same as with bacterial infections|
|Examples|| || |
Bacterial infection (caused by bacteria pathogenic in nature). They typically lead to skin infections, sore throat, pneumonia, urinary tract infections, bacterial pneumonia, and suchlike diseases. They are typically more severe than viral infections (Sweeney, Wong, & Khatri, 2016). If they are left untreated, their consequences can be deplorable for the patient.
On the contrary, viral infections are caused by viruses that typically hide in cells and attack the body when the immune system is weakened. They include common colds, viral meningitis, viral pneumonia, measles, AIDS, and other diseases (Silasi et al., 2015).
Why Proper Identification is Important
It is crucial to find out whether the disease is caused by a viral or bacterial infections since their treatments are considerably different. The situation is complicated by the fact that both types of infections may have the same symptoms. Bacterial infections are to be treated with antibiotics, which kill bacteria or hinder their reduplication. For viral infections, antiviral drugs are implemented; however, prevention is the key measure as some viral infections are incurable (such as AIDS). Antibiotics do not work for this type of infection (Talaro & Chess, 2018).
Cansizoglu, M. F., & Toprak, E. (2017). Fighting against evolution of antibiotic resistance by utilizing evolvable antimicrobial drugs. Current Genetics, 63(6), 973-976.
Kelesidis, T., & Falagas, M. E. (2015). Substandard/counterfeit antimicrobial drugs. Clinical Microbiology Reviews, 28(2), 443-464.
Khurshid, Z., Naseem, M., Sheikh, Z., Najeeb, S., Shahab, S., & Zafar, M. S. (2016). Oral antimicrobial peptides: Types and role in the oral cavity. Saudi Pharmaceutical Journal, 24(5), 515-524.
Silasi, M., Cardenas, I., Kwon, J. Y., Racicot, K., Aldo, P., & Mor, G. (2015). Viral infections during pregnancy. American Journal of Reproductive Immunology, 73(3), 199-213.
Sweeney, T. E., Wong, H. R., & Khatri, P. (2016). Robust classification of bacterial and viral infections via integrated host gene expression diagnostics. Science Translational Medicine, 8(346), 346ra91-346ra91.
Talaro, K. P., & Chess, B. (2018). Foundations in microbiology. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.