ANTIMICROBIAL AGENTS2Antimicrobial AgentsModern health care has shown great progress in preventing and treating infectious diseases. In the United States, heart disease and malignancies greatly surpass infectious disease as major causes of death (Huether & McCance, 2017). However, endemic diseases, such as chronic hepatitis, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), other sexually transmitted infections, and foodborne infections, remain major challenges. The purpose of this paper is to describe the categories of antimicrobial agents, describe differences between viral and bacterial infections, and explain why proper identification of viral and bacterial infections is key to selecting the proper antimicrobial agent.Categories of Antimicrobial AgentsAntimicrobials include all agents that act against all types of microorganisms – bacteria (antibacterial), viruses (antiviral), fungi (antifungal) and protozoa (antiprotozoal). Penicillin classis effective in many infections, including those of the upper respiratory tract, urinary tract, and central nervous system as well as sexually transmitted diseases; although the use of penicillin itself is limited due to wide spread resistance (Arcangelo & Peterson, 2013). Beta-lactam class, based on their broad spectrum of activity, are used in treating polymicrobial infections such as intraabdominal and gynecologic infections, skin and soft tissue infections, and respiratory infections including aspiration pneumonia, sinusitis, and lung abscesses (Arcangelo & Peterson, 2013). The cephalosporin class, a beta-lactam group, is structurally similar to the penicillins and is divided into four generations based on their antimicrobial spectrum activity (Arcangelo & Peterson, 2013). Monobactams class is a unique class of beta-lactams with only one microbial agent within this class - (Azactam), which is commonly used to treat urinary tract and respiratorytract infections (Arcangelo & Peterson, 2013). Carbapenems class is the most broad-spectrum
ANTIMICROBIAL AGENTS3agents commercially available and is useful as single agents in treating polymicrobial infections (Arcangelo & Peterson, 2013). Fluoroquinolones class has become a dominant class of antimicrobial agents and has shown to be effective in treating many infections, including hospital-acquired infections such as nosocomial pneumonia (Arcangelo & Peterson, 2013). Macrolides class is also considered a broad-spectrum agent and is used to treat atypical organisms such as chlamydia, rickettsiae, and legionella (Arcangelo & Peterson, 2013).