Over the last decade, almost every type of bacteria has become stronger and less responsive to antibiotic treatment when it is really needed. These antibiotic-resistant bacteria can quickly spread to family members, schoolmates, and co-workers - threatening the community with a new strain of infectious disease that is more difficult to cure and more expensive to treat.
Perhaps you can see why antibiotic resistance has been called one of the world's major public health concerns. For that reason, in 1995, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) started a National Campaign for Appropriate Antibiotic Use in the Community that "promotes four strategies that clinicians can use to prevent antimicrobial resistance among different groups of patients.
1. Prevent infection.
2. Diagnose and treat infection effectively.
3. Use antimicrobials wisely.
4. Prevent transmission.
This post focuses on responsible public use of antibiotics. Here are five things you can do to reduce the growth and spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria (microbes):
--> Do not take an antibiotic for a viral infection like a cold or the flu. Antibiotics kill bacteria, not viruses.
--> Do not save some of your antibiotic for the next time you get sick. Discard any leftover medication once you have completed your prescribed course of treatment. Don't share your antibiotic with others.
--> Take an antibiotic exactly as the healthcare provider tells you. Do not skip doses. Complete the prescribed course of treatment even if you are feeling better. If treatment stops too soon, some bacteria may survive and re-infect you or another.
--> Do not take antibiotics prescribed for someone else. The antibiotic may not be appropriate for your illness. Taking the wrong medicine may delay correct treatment, increase resistance, and allow bacteria to multiply.
--> Do not pressure your healthcare provider to prescribe an antibiotic. If your provider determines that you do not have a bacterial infection, ask about ways to help relieve your symptoms.
So if you are going to take antibiotics, take them as directed. Get smart. Take antibiotics responsibly, not only for for your own health, but for that of those in your family and community.
"The misuse of penicillin could be the propagation of mutant forms of bacteria that would resist the new miracle drug." - Alexander Fleming, discoverer of penicillin, as quoted in a 1945 New York Times interview