Monday, May 5, 2014

A very real problem

Drug resistant bacteria are now a real problem world wide. Think of the world before antibiotics where a simple cut could kill someone if it became infected. I find this very scary. As someone with multiple health issues, I am deeply concerned about getting a germ that can't be cured because it is antibiotic resistant.

The causes of this are multiple (from my layperson understanding):
  • Doctors over prescribing antiobiotics for ailments that do not require them.
  • Patients not taking entire doses of antibiotics so that the germs are not destroyed but adapt and become resistant to the antibiotic.
  • In the food industry, livestock is given antibiotics for some silly reason - this leads to low level exposure that help build resistance.
  • Discarded antibiotics end up in the water supply - this also leads to low level exposure that help build resistance. 
Now the problem is much more rampant. The World Health Organization recently released a report on this topic.

"Antimicrobial drugs are one of the foundations of modern health care something we all hope to rely on when we get sick with ailments including pneumonia, urinary tract or blood infections, diarrhea or sexually transmitted diseases, Fukuda says. These infections occur worldwide on a daily basis.
But because of overuse or misuse or improper use of existing treatments, the ability to fight these infections is getting harder and harder, he says.

In its first global report on antimicrobial resistance, released Wednesday, the WHO says " a post-antibiotic era in which common infections and minor injuries can kill is a very real possibility for the 21st century."..."

"Conservative estimates in the United States alone suggest 2 million people get antibiotic-resistant infections each year, and at least 23,000 die because current drugs no longer stop their infections."

This is the part that is most scary to me:

"Some people may wonder why they should worry. Fukuda says that anyone who gets a serious infection, develops cancer and needs chemotherapy or requires any kind of surgery could be in a bad situation with no drugs left to treat them. The same is true for premature babies or malnourished children.

After two cancers and eight surgeries, and penicillin allergies, am I going to end up this way?
 
"Bottom line," says Fukuda, "we should expect to see that there are going to be some people who have untreatable infections."

The WHO says there's a need for a global action plan, including:
– better use of vaccines; basic hand hygiene to reduce infections, such as washing hands; reduction of non-health uses of antimicrobial drugs;
– support of research that will lead to new and better diagnostic tests;
and better surveillance, to get a better overall global antimicrobial resistance."
 
A lot of this is up to the patient/consumer. We should not demand/expect antibiotics unless they are for an infection. If given them, we should use them properly and finish the entire dose. We need to demand meat that has been raised without antibiotics. We need to go back to the basics and wash our hands and take care of minor injuries before they become infected.

Its too scary a world for those of us with not the best health.

1 comment:

Jim's Girl said...

I am very concerned about this myself, Caroline. My mother is back in ICU and they've just found an antibiotic-resistant bug in her. I am about to leave to visit her and I'm wondering, can I kiss her? Is it safe? I've been septic twice now. The third time may not be lucky. ~Kate, of Kate Has Cancer