World is Running out of Antibiotics? - October 2017

By Miscellaneous

The World Health Organization has released a new report examining the lack of new antibiotics in development to deal with the increasing threat of antimicrobial resistance.  At this time, the medicines being developed are modified versions of existing classes of antibiotics and only serve as short-term solutions to antibiotic resistance. Of the 51 new drugs in development, only eight are innovative. In fact, according to the WHO, no major antibiotics have been developed over the last 30 years. There are 13 classes of priority pathogens that are becoming increasingly resistant to available antibiotics.  Some of these pathogens cause common infections like pneumonia and urinary tract infections. Antibiotic resistant infections account for at least 23,000 deaths each year. According to the WHO, twice as many patients die from infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria than those caused by non-resistant bacteria.

What can you do?
Note that antibiotics treat bacterial infections and are not effective against viral infections e.g., the flu, the common cold.

Take antibiotics as prescribed. Know how much, when and how often you should take your antibiotics, as well as side effects or bad reactions. Use the full course of the antibiotics. Do not store leftover antibiotics - return them to your pharmacist for safe disposal. Do not share antibiotics with others.

Avoid getting infections by practicing good hygiene e.g., wash your hands properly and frequently. Even though it seems like a simple task, properly washing your hands means using soap and water for at least 20 seconds. 

The next best thing to use if soap and water are not available is alcohol-based hand sanitizer. If you are ill and vomiting or have diarrhea, be sure to wash your hands and keep your washroom clean. Do not handle food when you are ill.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth as much as you can.

Cough or sneeze into your sleeve or into a tissue and not your hand. Promptly discard the tissue in the garbage. Taking these steps prevents the transfer of bacteria.

Do not return to work until you feel better so that you avoid spreading bacteria and other germs to your co-workers.

Practice safe sex to avoid contracting a sexually transmitted infection that is resistant to antibiotics.

Ensure that shared surfaces around the home are clean. Plain soap and water is effective for cleaning.

Store and prepare food safely to avoid food-borne illness.

If you use well water, make sure you have it tested on a regular schedule.

A good resource is the Antibiotic Wise website. You can download a Antibiotic Wise checklist with questions to ask when you are prescribed an antibiotic. The website home page also includes a database to tell you when antibiotics are appropriate. 

Source: Government of Canada website, World Health Organization website, Antibiotic Wise website   




 Miscellaneous
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