Antibiotic resistance 'big threat to health'

Antibiotic resistant bacteria Antibiotic resistance is growing

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Resistance to antibiotics is one of the greatest threats to modern health, experts say.

The warning from England's chief medical officer and the Health Protection Agency comes amid reports of growing problems with resistant strains of bugs such as E. coli and gonorrhoea.

They said many antibiotics were being used unnecessarily for mild infections, helping to create resistance.

And they urged patients to take more care with how they used medicines.

This is particularly important as there are very few new antibiotics in development.


The chief medical officer, Prof Dame Sally Davies, said: "Antibiotics are losing their effectiveness at a rate that is both alarming and irreversible - similar to global warming.

"I urge patients and prescribers to think about the drugs they are requesting and dispensing.

"Bacteria are adapting and finding ways to survive the effects of antibiotics, ultimately becoming resistant so they no longer work.

Prof Dame Sally Davies warns of the consequences of antibiotic resistance

"The more you use an antibiotic, the more bacteria become resistant to it."

To reinforce her message, Dame Sally has issued a list of "dos and don'ts".

These include:

  • Do remember antibiotics should be taken only when prescribed by a health professional.
  • Do complete the prescribed course even if you feel better, as not taking the full course encourages the emergence of resistance.
  • Don't share antibiotics with anyone else.
  • Do remember that antibiotics cannot help you recover from infections caused by viruses, such as colds or flu.

The HPA said the last point was one of the common misconceptions among the public.

Dr Cliodna McNulty from the HPA said: "We all seem to forget just how awful you can feel with a bad cold, let alone flu, and this maybe makes us think that we are more poorly than we really are and that we need antibiotics to get better.

"But this isn't the case and using your favourite over-the-counter medicines that can help to ease headaches, aching muscles and stop your nose running will make you feel a lot better."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 124.

    100 Estia
    "not use what nature provides"

    Isn't nature also providing the bacteria? If herbal medicine works as well as claimed, then we would never have developed synthetic medicine.

  • rate this

    Comment number 123.

    I'm still not confident that doctors are able to diagnose the different between a bacterial and virus infection. Many patients find it far too easy to persuade their GP for antibiotics.

  • rate this

    Comment number 122.

    If you treat a cold with anti-biotics you will get better in about a week, whereas if you don't take antibiotics you will get better in about 7 days.

  • rate this

    Comment number 121.

    The way to beat this is to stop dishing anti-biotics out like sweets.

    For goodness sake, the human race has survived for hundreds of thousands of years without them and making bugs resistant only makes nastier things to catch which wont be treated.

    We could be making things worse.

  • rate this

    Comment number 120.

    The scaryest thing about this story is that most people dont realise what the world WILL be like WHEN bactera become resistant.

    MASSIVE childhood mortality. Healthy adults regularly DIED of small cuts as late at 1900.

    Current practice is TOTALLY INSAINE. Food animals recieve coctails of antibiotics to make them bigger. Doctors give them out like sweets to make people go away in happy ignorance.

  • rate this

    Comment number 119.

    lets hope Bacteriophage is ready before things get too bad

    this is old news, look it up...

  • rate this

    Comment number 118.

    108. nefer
    I think it would help if organisms were identified and matched with the correct antibiotic in the first place,instead of assuming.
    E.g. mycoplasma fermentans and, say,doxycycline.
    Of course it would. It would also cost infinitely more (although keep me in a job for life) and by the time the bacteria had grown in the lab the patient may well be already dead (think meningitis)

  • rate this

    Comment number 117.

    Resistance to antibiotics is one of the greatest threats to modern health, experts say.

    Fact is, Asian/African countrys with poor controls endemically abuse medical technological advances in medicine resulting in irreverasble damage to the whole WORLD being able to resist/fend off serious infections etc.
    Easy, cheap medication access to 3rd/developing world is a serious world health danger

  • rate this

    Comment number 116.

    To be totally fair, if we didn't have anti-biotics then more people would of died from bugs such as E.coli. Then the survivors of E.coli would then go on to reproduce and create another generation of people that are naturally resistant to the strain. It's natural selection and if anything we are fighting a losing battle. It doesn't make me not want people to live and be healthy though

  • rate this

    Comment number 115.

    I have said this before, and was bashed and berrated for it, but here we go again. . . . . If we immunise ourselves against everything, then how are we supposed to build up any natural immunity? If we are constantly on antibiotics, of course it will eventually stop working, because our bodies get used to it, and the 'bugs' we catch are forever evolving. Even I know this and I'm a nobody

  • rate this

    Comment number 114.

    They do say, that if you have a healthy gut, that you catch a lot less colds and other things? If your immune system is healthy, you are a lot less likely to get sick. So, anyone going to join me in a trip to the supermarket for some of those wee pots of healthy bugs?

  • rate this

    Comment number 113.

    Meditation, a healthy life-style and a good diet certainly help prevent disease, but often they are simply not enough. There is no magical solution. Disease historically was rife in human populations because of the density of those populations, made worse by bad sanitation. People are forgetting basics. How often have you entered a shop and seen layers of hand prints smudged all over door handles?

  • rate this

    Comment number 112.

    I'm hardly ever ill... but when I am I avoid going to my doctors surgery... just feels like whenever I'm there I'm going to catch something worse.

    People coughing everywhere, kids running around sneezing all over the place.. disgusting.. I'd rather ride it out..

    And hospitals are even worse.

    I was forced to go to one in Sept with a broken wrist... came home with a stomach bug as well as a cast!

  • rate this

    Comment number 111.

    When asked, my doctor said he thinks he knows at least 90% of what there is to know about ABs.

    When asked how much he knew about the inter-relationship between my immune systems, ABs, any other residual traces of drugs still lurking in my body and my unique genetic make-up he said he couldn't answer that question honestly but guessed at around 5%.

    Can I trust his advice when prescribing ABs?

  • rate this

    Comment number 110.

    #89.The Bloke

    True. Other countries are worse for over-prescribing. Why? 1) It is the British way to soldier on when ill. 2) Private healthcare increases people's expectation to be medicated (no-one likes the Doc saying go home and go to bed, but if you've paid to be told that...) 3) Private healthcare means greater pressure from Pharma companies on Doctors to prescribe their drugs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 109.

    scirop, the american comparison is quite weak everyone knows they pay more, as for drs deserving there 4k a week fact & all there overtime on top, home visits, expenses, over 5k fact, 8 dr's sitting in a surgery seeing 30 patients a day is hardly justification for 5k a week, and all the perks they used to get from drug companies or still do, Drs are detached from compassion we are all lab rats

  • rate this

    Comment number 108.

    Antibiotics work by either stopping an organism from reproducing,or by killing the organism.
    The former case still relies on the immune system.
    I think it would help if organisms were identified and matched with the correct antibiotic in the first place,instead of assuming.
    E.g. mycoplasma fermentans and, say,doxycycline.

  • rate this

    Comment number 107.

    This is a non-story, and common knowledge.
    The BBC runs it every couple of months as one of its every-morning 'Britain (apart from the BBC) is crap headlines.

  • rate this

    Comment number 106.

    it is possible that the use of anti-biotics here is so restrictive that marginal cases being severely affected, eg kids who get meningitis - if they got antibiotics a bit faster it is possible that there might be fewer amputations. This would save money and distress long term. The rest of the world needs to clamp down, because they are available over the counter, and routinely fed to animals.

  • rate this

    Comment number 105.

    Pharmaceutical companies are failing to produce new antibiotics fast enough. They are fighting a losing battle. Bacteria can even increase resistance to natural products, such as essential oils, garlic, etc. Work stress, and other stress, is a leading 'cause' of disease and a healthy life-style helps enormously, but we live in populations much denser that nature intended, encouraging disease.


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