Fast forward 70 years: Antibiotic resistance

By BonnieFreudenberg

antibiotic resistence is here to stayAntibiotics have been used for the past 70 years to fight infections. The original antibiotic, penicillin, was once thought to be a miraculous drug, easily effective for treatment of infections.

Moving forward 70 years… antibiotics such as penicillin continue to play an enormous role in fighting infectious diseases, but organisms once easily killed by antibiotics have cleverly adapted to them and are causing resistance.

In some cases, few, if any antibiotics are left to effectively treat them. One example is MRSA, a superbug. It is a potentially dangerous antibiotic resistant staph bacteria found in health care and community settings. The incidence of drug-resistant organisms such as MRSA is steadily increasing.

Have you had an infection that was difficult to treat with an initial antibiotic? If so, you may have already experienced antibiotic resistance. Antibiotics may even cause infections because they inadvertently destroy healthy bacteria normally present in the body.

A recent ABC News report stated, “The average child will receive 10 to 20 courses of antibiotics by the time he is 18 years old.” It’s also reported that one-third to onehalf of pregnant women receives antibiotics during pregnancy.

While taking properly prescribed antibiotics is vital to maintaining one’s health, the most critical action you can take is to reduce risk for infections and, ultimately, antibiotic resistance.

It’s important to note that antibiotics are not necessarily bad and are an important adjunct to care for infectious diseases. They should, however, be used only when necessary.
Do your part to reduce the risk of antibiotic resistance:

● See your health care provider if you are ill. Do not expect to be put on an antibiotic.
● Use antibiotics for bacterial infections only.
● Stay home if you are sick.
● Use only antibiotics prescribed by your health care provider.
● Finish taking all the pills in your antibiotic prescription.
● Best protection: Wash hands frequently/thoroughly with soap and water (avoid
antibacterial soaps at home).

Bonnie Freudenberg is an infection preventionist at the Douglas County Hospital in Alexandria.

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