The Facts About an Increasing Resistance to Antibiotics


“For 85 years antibiotics have been solving the problem of infectious disease in a way that’s really unique in human history. And people assume those antibiotics are always going to be there. And unfortunately, they’re wrong.” McKenna

antibiotics, resistance to antibiotics

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The 2013 report called Antibiotics Resistance Threats in the United States outlines some scary facts. However, it’s important, especially for parents, to be aware of these facts and to know how to use this information.

As Dr.Tom Frieden, director of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated: “Antimicrobial resistance is one of our most serious health threats. Infections from resistant bacteria are now too common, and some pathogens have even become resistant to multiple types or classes of antibiotics (antimicrobials used to treat bacterial infections). The loss of effective antibiotics will undermine our ability to fight infectious diseases and manage the infectious complications common in vulnerable patients undergoing chemotherapy for cancer, dialysis for renal failure, and surgery, especially organ transplantation, for which the ability to treat secondary infections is crucial. When first-line and then second-line antibiotic treatment options are limited by resistance or are unavailable, healthcare providers are forced to use antibiotics that may be more toxic to the patient and frequently more expensive and less effective. Even when alternative treatments exist, research has shown that patients with resistant infections are often much more likely to die, and survivors have significantly longer hospital stays, delayed recuperation, and long-term disability. Efforts to prevent such threats build on the foundation of proven public health strategies: immunization, infection control, protecting the food supply, antibiotic stewardship, and reducing person-to-person spread through screening, treatment and education.”

So what causes antibiotic resistance?
The overuse of antibiotics is the main factor leading to antibiotic resistance around the world. Antibiotics are among the most commonly prescribed drugs used in human medicine. However, up to 50% of all the antibiotics prescribed are either not needed or are ineffective. Antibiotics are also often used in food production to prevent, control, and treat disease in animals, as well as to promote their growth. Therefore, organically-produced meet, eggs and dairy are a safer alternative. The use of antibiotics for promoting growth is not necessary and recent guidance from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) describes a pathway toward elimination of such practice. It’s currently difficult to directly compare the amount of antibiotics used in food animals with the amount used in humans, but there is evidence that more antibiotics are used in food production. The other major factor in the growth of antibiotic resistance is spread of the resistant strains of bacteria from person to person, or from the non-human sources in the environment, including food.
Here are some scary, yet important facts about the increasing problem of antibiotic resistance, according to the above mentioned CDC report:
  • Based on currently available data, it’s estimated that more than two million people are annually sickened with antibiotic-resistant infections in the United States alone. At least 23,000 people die as a result of such infections;
  • About 250,000 people each year require hospital care for Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) infections. In most of these infections, the use of antibiotics was a major contributing factor leading to the illness. At least 14,000 people die each year from this infection.
  • Antibiotics are the most common cause of emergency visit responsible for adverse drug events in children under 18 years of age.
  • 1 out of 5 emergency visit for adverse drug events are due to antibiotics.
bacterial resistance

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Which strains should we be aware of?
  • Urgent treats include the following bacterial strains:
    – Clostridium difficile
    – Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE)
    – Drug-resistant Neisseria gonorrhoeae
  • Serious treats include:
    – Multidrug-resistant Acinetobacter

    – Drug-resistant Campylobacter

    – Fluconazole-resistant Candida (a fungus)
    – Extended spectrum β-lactamase producing Enterobacteriaceae (ESBLs)
    – Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE)
    – Multidrug-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa
    – Drug-resistant Non-typhoidal Salmonella
    – Drug-resistant Salmonella Typhi
    – Drug-resistant Shigella
    – Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)
    – Drug-resistant Streptococcus pneumoniae
    – Drug-resistant tuberculosis
  • Concerning treats include:
    – Vancomycin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (VRSA)
    – Erythromycin-resistant Group A Streptococcus
    – Clindamycin-resistant Group B Streptococcus
What can public and parents do to prevent antibiotic resistance?
An important part is prevention of infections and community awareness, these include:
– monitoring trends in food-borne infections
– monitoring outbreaks and limiting exposure
– tracking and responding to changes in resistance, especially in children
– identifying and educating groups at high risk for infection, including schools and social establishments
– promoting proper hand-washing, especially before eating and after using the bathroom.
– take antibiotics only as prescribed by your doctor and complete the prescribed course of treatment
– tell your doctor if you have been on antibiotics and get diarrhea within a few months
– tell your doctor if you have been hospitalized in another facility or country
– try to use a separate bathroom if you have diarrhea, or be sure the bathroom is cleaned well if someone with diarrhea has used it.
To view the full report including details regarding each bacterial treat- see Drug Resistance Treat Report 2013 .
Resources and References:                                                                                                                               Eco Living, Could Resistance to Antibiotics Be the End of Modern Medicine? Most Antibiotics Prescribed Are Too Strong, The Use of Antiviral and Antibiotic Medications
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