Nursing Antibacterial Antimicrobial Antiviral Agents Essay

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Categories of Antimicrobial Agents

Antimicrobial agents refer to a broad classification of molecules that either kill or suppress the growth or multiplication of bacteria, fungi, viruses, protozoa, and helmiths (Greenwood & Irving, 2012; Musumeci & Puglisi, 2013). According to the World Health Organization (WHO, 2016), antimicrobials can be classified in various ways such as which microorganisms they target (such as antibacterial versus antiviral agents), their mechanisms or methods of intervention (such as penetration of cellular walls), or their utility in human medicine given some are considered “critically important,” due to their prevention of disease and death (p. 9). Because antimicrobial pharmacotherapy can lead to deleterious and unwanted side effects, it is important to properly identify the type of infection first and then administer the appropriate antimicrobial agent.

Antibacterial agents like antibiotics target bacterial infections, whereas antiviral agents target viruses. Generally, antibacterial agents inhibit cell wall synthesis or protein synthesis in the target bacteria, with Penicillin and other beta-lactams being the most notable antibiotic group (Greenwood & Irving, 2012). Other antibiotics that inhibit cell wall or protein synthesis include the cephalosporin and carbapenem groups (Maiyoh, 2015). Because viruses do not have cellular walls or conduct their own protein synthesis like bacteria, antiviral agents work totally differently and their mode of action depends on the infection.

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Differences Between Viral and Bacterial Infections

Both viruses and bacteria are pathogens that can harm the human body. However, viruses and bacteria differ significantly on the molecular level, as well as how they are transmitted. Each pathogen has a different mode of transmission, with additional risk factors being patient vulnerability due to compromised immune system or genetic predisposition. Antiviral agents cannot kills bacteria and likewise, antibiotics cannot kill viral infections, making it important to differentiate between different types of infections. The goal of an antibacterial medication is to kill the bacteria or destroy its ability to synthesize proteins that enable it to reproduce itself. A virus acts more systemically when it infects the human body, effectively integrating itself with the host’s biology. Yet in all cases, antimicrobial agents can also harm healthy tissue while allowing both bacteria and viruses to adapt to the antimicrobials.

Proper Identification of the Infection

Improper administration of antimicrobials can lead to adverse patient outcomes, which is why proper diagnosis precedes pharmacological treatment. Infections also need to be differentiated between infectious versus non-infectious, although in many….....

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Gelone, S.P., Pacetti, S. & O’Donnell, J.A. (2006). Principles of antimicrobial therapy. In Arcangelo & Peterson (Eds.). Pharmacotherapeutics for Advanced Practice. Lippincott & Williams.

Greenwood, D. & Irving, W.L. (2012). Antimicrobial agents. Medical Microbiology, 18th Ed.,

Maiyoh, G.K.K. (2015). Classes of antimicrobial agents.

Musumeci, T. & Puglisi, G. (2013). Antimicrobial agents. Drug–Biomembrane Interaction Studies.

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): 346-91.

World Health Organization (2016). Critically important antimicrobials for human medicine. 5th Revision.

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