I bet many of you think your actions do not impact the plight of antibiotic resistance. Answer honestly – how many of you have been prescribed antibiotics for an infection like strep throat only to stop taking them after a few days because you felt better? If you answered yes, you my dear reader, are helping to create antibiotic resistance.
This week is antibiotic awareness week. Around the world, healthcare workers, dentists, veterinarians, farmers, policy makers and we, the consumer, are talking about ways to help reduce this threat. In case you did not know, antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health and food security. It’s easy to think that “it’s not going to affect me”, but the truth is antibiotic resistance knows no boundaries; age, country, economic status, and health status mean nothing to an antibiotic resistant bacteria. If you don’t believe me, check out the IDSA website and read the stories of those who have been impacted by an antibiotic resistant infection. Some like 9 yr old Brock Wade were lucky and survived. Others like 21yr Ricky Lannetti a healthy football player, were not and the lives of their families were impacted forever.
Aside from not finishing our antibiotic treatments, some of the other causes of antibiotic resistance include:
- Over-prescribing antibiotics. Infections like a cold or flu, while nasty to deal with are caused by viruses. Viruses cannot be treated with antibiotics. If you have a cold, don’t beg your doctor for or go from walk-in clinic to walk-in clinic in search of antibiotics.
- Over-use of antibiotics in livestock and fish farming. The good news is starting in 2017, Veterinary Feed Directives are being implemented that allow antibiotics to be used only to treat disease and not aid in the growth of animals.
- Poor infection control in hospitals and clinics.
- Lack of hygiene and poor sanitation. The truth is most antibiotic resistant bacteria are among the easiest organisms to kill with the proper use of disinfectants. Ensuring we wash our hands, tend to wounds or scrapes and clean our homes thoroughly and frequently will help reduce the risk of transmission.
- Lack of new antibiotics being developed.
If you’re interested in learning more about some of the specific antibiotic resistant organisms, cleaning protocols and other tips to fight off antibiotic resistance organisms, check out our most recent educational campaign – No ESKAPE!