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.

'Alarming'

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
    +1

    Comment number 444.

    I'm 37 and can count on one hand the number of times ive accepted anti-biotics. There's a huge slug of our population who pester GPs for care when faced with a simple cold or flu virus. Of course some people are more susceptible to viruses than the majority of the population but clearly this drug is being dished in lieu of suffering in silence for a day or two.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 443.

    People who have no idea about how antibiotic resistance works need to stop spouting off their ill informed ideas as if they were fact. It is fact that antibiotics will not do a thing against a virus, and it is fact that the repeated, low level use of antibiotics selects for resistant strains of bacteria. People need to stop thinking they know better when it isn't just their health on the line.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 442.

    Every time non-organic meat is consumed you are getting a dose of antibiotics (along with hormones etc). Meat should be labelled to inform consumers and increase awareness of the issues of increasing resistance and premature puberty. So those with serious illness are likely to suffer in the longer term.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 441.

    I injured my leg earlier this year and as result of infection I have had to make about 6 visits to GPs. Without going into all the ins and outs I've been prescribed various antibiotics and for the 1st time in my life I had an allergic reaction. I've seen a different doctor every time I've been to the surgery, and felt that I was on "their production line" - could that be where the problem lies?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 440.

    I am also worried about the amounts of antibiotics used by farmers who raise pigs. I believe that people will inadvertently be taking these drugs when consuming meat. And I am not a vegetarian. I want stricter controls on the use of antibiotics in farming.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 439.

    This isn't true, bacteria don't become resistant, its just a random chance genetic mutation to whether they become immune or not!

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 438.

    I am a GP
    The real struggle is that there is a culture in some practices of prescribing antibiotics and this is what the patients expect.

    I was surprised recently that a patient in her 80s was prescribed antibiotics without review following a call from her daughter.

    I feel QOF payments should be linked to appropriate use of antibiotics, focusing the minds of my sometimes lazy colleagues

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 437.

    @linford That is nonsensical rubbish, it is physically, scientifically, medically impossible for an anti-BIOTIC to have any effect on a VIRUS. Either you do not have a viral infection such as a cold or flu, or it is having a placebo effect.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 436.

    @84 linford "sorry, but they DO work for me with my recent cold, cough and sore throat, so please do NOT generalise as to their effectiveness."

    In that case, I suggest you contact The Lancet immediately as you are a miracle of modern medicine.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 435.

    It is natures way of trying to control the human population and organisms adapt to their surroundings by evolving. So when a cleaning agent kills 99% of all known germs all that does is allow the other 1% a fertile breeding ground to expand. When a supposedly trained doctor gives you antibiotics for a viral infection it does not help cure the problem just allows other organisms to grow and evolve.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 434.

    I think that alternative medicine can really help to fight the battle. If people use crystal power, take plenty of homeopathic tap water and get their chakras massaged on a regular basis then it means they aren't taking antibiotics inappropriately.

    And any of the above methods should clear up a cold in 7 days...

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 433.

    Presumably if bugs are resistant to drugs then this will be some way of restoring survival of the fittest to the human race. The last few generations have seen a distinct weakening of the ability to fight bugs. Certainly we have been able to breed like fury but only a more vulnerable generation. I wonder how we will tolerate the next pandemic.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 432.

    In a lot of country's you can buy Antibiotics over the counter Which is making this worse, also what about Farmers using them on livestock? And them being used here there and everywhere for no good reason

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 431.

    The problem of over-use is much worse in other parts of the world. In most of the Middle East, one can self-medicate by buying ABs over the counter with no prescription.

    Not only do people consume ABs to treat viral infections, when they do have a bacterial disease they are likely to choose the wrong AB!

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 430.

    yet there is another story on this website telling us that all our surfaces are filthy and we need to use more antiseptics etc which of these stories do we believe?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 429.

    122. engineer-neil
    >>>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.

    Ah! Gotta love those doctor "sayings".

    "You should never stick anything smaller than your middle finger into your ear."

    "You say obesity runs in your family? Judging by you, I should say NOBODY runs in your family! "

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 428.

    About 10 years ago we had an awful winter for coughs colds&flu, despite taking vitamin C tablets. After chancing on an article about methods by which health in an Indian village was vastly improved we: (1) made a household policy that if you see a fly, you kill it. (2) Make sure there's always easy sources of fresh vitamin C (Satsumas etc) around. Only low-level coughs&colds since. Coincidence?

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 427.

    137. philjer
    >>>VIRUSES ARE NOT RESPONSIVE TO ANTIBIOTICS.
    Okay, accept that and it's pretty widely known now I think. But let me ask a related question.

    Do antibiotics subdue other low-level problems, thus freeing up the immune system for combating the main ailment, thus speeding recovery as a some people claim? Just wondering....

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 426.

    Antibiotics don't work against viruses - FACT. Some people pointed out you can get secondary bacterial infections, eg in mucus caused by a virus, for which ABs are appropriate. Yes this is true BUT that's no reason to take ABs just in case. If you treat a cold properly (eg blow your nose, not sniff it down) you're unlikely to get a bacterial infection. Taking ABs "just in case" causes resistance!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 425.

    About 70% of all antibiotic production goes into animal feed for healthy animals. So anything patients and doctors refrain from doing will have no effect for those antibiotics. May drug resistant strains are found on farms and feedlots, and they get directly into food during slaughter, and when (as has actually happened in California) animal waste is washed by rains into vegetable farms.

 

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