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CDC warns resistant bacteria is a real danger

By Alyssa Sellors     Oct 21, 2013 in Health
Antibiotics in our food and medicine cabinets have created a relentless monster: “nightmare” bacteria resistant to antibiotics. Professionals in the medical field are sending a critical warning, which has seemingly fallen on deaf ears.
The major factors causing resistant strains are the overuse of antibiotics in medicine, which causes the effectiveness of these drugs to diminish, and the increased use of antibiotics in our food animals, to promote growth. These resistant strains can then pass from human to human or non-human source to environment. Many of us who are not in the medical field may wonder how these antibiotic resistant strains even come about in the first place, but it’s actually quite simple. How this resistance occurs begins first with a few germs among the others causing the illness that are drug resistant. When the patient goes to the doctor for this illness they have, they are prescribed antibiotics to kill the bad bacteria causing the illness, but the antibiotics kills both the bad and the good bacteria, leaving the drug-resistant bacteria to grow and take over.
This antibiotic resistance epidemic is “driven by evolution” and is a relentless process, says David Hoffman of The Washington Post. In his article, Hoffman highlights the public warning about “nightmare” bacteria, “a family of germs known as CREs” that can kill up to half of the patients with bloodstream infections as a result of these resistant germs. This deadly resistance is essentially a modern epidemic, and the proof is in the CDC’s recent findings that of February 2013, almost every state has seen some sort of resistance to carbapenems, a “class of powerful, last-resort antibiotics.” Before 2000, it was rare to find any cases of this type of resistance.
Antibiotics are the most commonly prescribed drugs in medicine, and 50 percent of prescribed antibiotics are either not needed or not effective as prescribed. In a graphic representation of the Center for Disease Control’s Threat Report for 2013, you can see just how shocking the effects of resistant bacteria are, and can be. Cost wise, we are looking at $20 billion dollars in healthcare costs as a result of extended hospital stays, prolonged treatment, and additional doctor visits as a result of resistant bacteria. We are also looking at a $35 billion dollar lose in overall American productivity. Beyond cost, 2 million people in the US acquire antibiotic resistant infections each year, and of these people, 23,000 die as a direct result of the resistant infection.
So, what are the viable options, possible solutions? Many experts in the medical field are calling for more detailed national reporting of these resistant strains to better track and prevent them. In addition, increased drug development and knowledge of these existing antibiotic resistant bacteria can lead to prevention and intervention, but at this point, awareness is our greatest ally.
More about Antibiotic resistance, Antibioticresistant bacteria, CDC, Warning, Bacteria
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