Antibiotic Resistant Superbugs: Assessment of the Interrelationship of Occurrence in Clinical Settings and Environmental Niches

Molecules. 2016 Dec 27;22(1):29. doi: 10.3390/molecules22010029.


The increasing threat to global health posed by antibiotic resistance remains of serious concern. Human health remains at higher risk due to several reported therapeutic failures to many life threatening drug resistant microbial infections. The resultant effects have been prolonged hospital stay, higher cost of alternative therapy, increased mortality, etc. This opinionated review considers the two main concerns in integrated human health risk assessment (i.e., residual antibiotics and antibiotic resistant genes) in various compartments of human environment, as well as clinical dynamics associated with the development and transfer of antibiotic resistance (AR). Contributions of quorum sensing, biofilms, enzyme production, and small colony variants in bacteria, among other factors in soil, water, animal farm and clinical settings were also considered. Every potential factor in environmental and clinical settings that brings about AR needs to be identified for the summative effects in overall resistance. There is a need to embrace coordinated multi-locational approaches and interrelationships to track the emergence of resistance in different niches in soil and water versus the hospital environment. The further integration with advocacy, legislation, enforcement, technological innovations and further research input and recourse to WHO guidelines on antibiotic policy would be advantageous towards addressing the emergence of antibiotic resistant superbugs.

Keywords: antimicrobial resistance; critical control point; exposure; health risk assessment; residual antibiotics; superbug; total antibiotic resistance.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Bacteria / drug effects*
  • Bacteria / pathogenicity*
  • Drug Resistance, Multiple, Bacterial / genetics*
  • Drug Resistance, Multiple, Bacterial / physiology*
  • Environment
  • Humans
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Soil Microbiology
  • Water Microbiology


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents