News on Wellness

Rise In Antibiotic Resistance Alarming Health Care Providers

The overuse of antibiotics in human patients and in livestock has led to a considerable increase in antibiotic resistance in bacteria in the U.S. and around the world. Deaths from infections from bacteria with high antibiotic resistance currently stands at about 700,000 per year. That number is predicted to rise to 10 million annually by 2050. The World Health Organization says that if changes aren’t made to the way we use antibiotics, people will begin to die from minor injuries that become infected.

The amount of antibiotics consumed by livestock increased 16 percent between 2009 and 2012. In 2014, around 80 percent of the antibiotics used in the U.S. went to livestock. This figure was so alarming that the Food and Drug Administration recently released new guidelines designed to curb the overuse of these important drugs. Producers are being urged to phase out the use of antibiotics for making animals grow and are urged to involve veterinarians in the decisions to give livestock antibiotics.

Many surgical patients are given prophylactic antibiotics to reduce the risk of infection during surgeries, but a rise in antibiotic resistance in bacteria is putting those getting minor surgeries at increased risk. Because of the number of factors that go into surgical-site infections, it’s really hard to know how many of them are caused by bacteria with high antibiotic resistance. However, the results of a recent study has estimated how many more infections will occur if antibiotics become less effective.

The results of the study showed that if prophylactic antibiotics get 30 percent less effective, there will be 120,000 more infections in the U.S. every year. Roughly 6,300 deaths would occur from those infections. A 70 percent reduction in efficacy would mean 280,000 more infections and 15,000 more deaths. The study only looked at the top ten most common surgical procedures and chemotherapy. The results were published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases by researchers at the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics, and Policy.

Solving the issues of antibiotic resistance will require collective responsibility. The development of new drugs are an important part of the plan, but using the ones that we already have wisely is just as important. The World Health Organization wrote in a recent report, “The problem is so serious that it threatens the achievements of modern medicine.” Hopefully, we can find a solution before it is too late.

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