Antibiotic Resistance: Top 3 Facts
1. Antibiotics are medications used to prevent and treat bacterial infections.
· Bacteria are single-celled organisms found all over the inside and outside of our bodies. Many bacteria are helpful, such as those that live in our intestines. Disease-causing bacteria can cause illnesses, such as strep throat, urinary tract infections, and skin infections
· Viruses are microbes that are smaller than bacteria and can’t survive outside the body’s cells. They cause illness by invading healthy cells
Antibiotics fight bacterial infections either by killing the bacteria or making it difficult for the bacteria to grow and multiply. Certain antibiotics will only treat certain types of bacterial infections. Antibiotics have no effect on viruses.
2. Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria change in response to the use of antibiotics. They develop the ability to defeat the medications designed to kill them.
· Every time a person takes an antibiotic, sensitive bacteria (bacteria that antibiotics can still attack) are killed, but resistant bacteria are left to grow and multiply
· Once bacteria become resistant, antibiotics cannot fight them, and the bacteria multiply
· Overuse and misuse of antibiotics allow the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria
Antibiotic resistance is rising to dangerously high levels in all parts of the world.
· A growing list of infections are becoming harder, and sometimes impossible, to treat as antibiotics become less effective
· Where antibiotics can be bought for human or animal use without a prescription, the emergence and spread of resistance is made worse
· Antibiotic resistance is one of the most urgent threats to the public’s health because it can cause illnesses that were once easily treatable with antibiotics to become untreatable, leading to dangerous infections
· Each year in the U.S., at least 2 million people are infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and at least 23,000 people die as a result
3. Preventing and controlling the spread of antibiotic resistance:
· Never pressure or demand your healthcare provider to prescribe an antibiotic
· Only use antibiotics when prescribed by your healthcare provider. Follow the directions on how to take them. Never skip doses
· Ask your healthcare provider about vaccines recommended for you and your family to prevent infections that may require an antibiotic
· Never take an antibiotic for a viral infection, like a cold or the flu
· Never save antibiotics for the next time you get sick
· Never take antibiotics prescribed for someone else
World Health Organization recommendations regarding antibiotic use in animals:
· Total restriction for purposes of growth promotion
· Complete restriction for purposes of disease prevention in healthy animals unless animals in close vicinity have been diagnosed with a disease that requires such use
· Testing of sick animals, when possible, to determine the most appropriate antibiotic for their infection
· Select antibiotics that are considered ‘least important to human health’ and avoid those considered ‘highest priority, critically important’
· Vaccinate animals to reduce the need for antibiotics