Can an adjective modify an adjective in “low-resistant infectious agents”?

I was translating a Russian sentence and came up with “low-resistant infectious agents”:

Infectious agents in animals (including birds) can be divided into four groups based on their resistance to chemical disinfectants: low-resistant, resistant, highly resistant and super resistant.

I googled for “low-resistant” and there are examples, although those seem to have been penned by non-native speakers of English. Would “low-resistant infectious agents” be acceptable with the hyphen, or should I instead use some other word? I thought of “slightly” but “slightly resistant infectious agents” looks a bit odd.. “weakly resistant infectious agents”?

I’m unsure which word to pick if not “low-resistant”. If if modify it to “low-resistance“, then it would fall out of tune with the other three terms in the range.


I don’t think “low” is a good choice. I would use “somewhat” or “moderately” resistant instead:

Based on their review, the researchers estimate that between 39 percent and 51 percent of surgical site infections and 27 percent of post-chemotherapy infections are caused by bacteria already somewhat resistant to antibiotics.
Antibiotic Resistance May Threaten These Patients

or this of “moderately resistant” and “highly resistant” in Kucers’ The Use of Antibiotics Sixth Edition

I don’t think “resistance” is a good substitute for “resistant”.
If you compare results from Google Books between “high resistance” and “highly resistant“, “high resistance” returns results that even when they are in a medical context are describing something other than an infectious agent, for example,

using antibiotics with a “low resistance potential” in place of those with a “high resistance potential,” (*)

In addition, the PSV Figure 9.1 High resistance flow proximal to severe occlusive disease. (A) Common carotid Doppler has a high resistance, triphasic waveform secondary to ICA occlusion. (*)

and “highly resistant” favors results related to infection or infestation. Using “resistance” instead of “resistant” doesn’t make much of a grammatical difference, but it does seem to run contrary to what is commonly used in other similar contexts.

Source : Link , Question Author : CowperKettle , Answer Author : ColleenV

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