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Superbugs: How We're Making Harmful Bacteria Stronger With Antibiotics

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Superbugs: How We're Making Harmful Bacteria Stronger With Antibiotics

In the U.S. antibiotic­resistant infections are responsible for:

  • $20 billion in excess healthcare costs
  • $35 billion in societal costs
  • 8 million additional hospital days

Antibiotic Resistance

The misuse and overuse of antibiotics and vaccines cause creation of superbugs.

  • In hospitals, 190 million doses of antibiotics are administered each day.
  • Non-hospitalized patients: over 133 million courses of antibiotics prescribed annually
    • 50% of these prescriptions are unnecessary
  • Over $1.1 billion spent annually on unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions for respiratory infections in adults.

Most common reasons to take unnecessary antibiotics:

  • To treat ailments usually caused by viruses, including bronchitis, sore throats, seasonal flu, and sinus infections.
  • To treat ear infections in children
    • New Academy of Pediatrics guidelines (February 2013)recommends that a child only get antibiotics if he or she fails to improve within 48 to 72 hours.
    • Dr. Richard M. Rosenfeld, of SUNY Downstate Medical Center: "70% of kids get better on their own within two or three days, and giving antibiotics when they aren't necessary can lead to the development of superbugs over time."

Examples of Bacterial Superbugs

1. Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE)

  • Evades the strongest antibiotics, making infections almost untreatable.
  • Has a fatality rate of up to 50%.
  • The CDC reports that in the last 10 years, the percentage of Enterobacteriaceae that have become resistant to antibiotics has increased from 1% to 4%.
  • One type of CRE actually increased its resistance seven fold in that time period.
  • In the first half of 2012, about 18 percent of long-term acute-care hospitals and 4 percent of short-stay hospitals nationwide had at least one patient infected with CRE.

2. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)

  • A drug-resistant phenotype that has been circulating for over 45 years, almost as long as methicillin has been on the market.
  • In 2007, 63% of all reported staph infections in the US were caused by MRSA
    • In 1995, about 22% of all reported staph infections were MRSA, compared with only 2% in 1974.
  • Instead of traditional antibiotics, physicians treat MRSA with "last-resort" intravenous vancomycin.
  • Scientists estimate that about 19,000 people in the United States die every year from MRSA.
    • that's more than the number of U.S. residents and citizens that die from HIV/AIDS (about 17,000 every year).

Do Your Part

1. Keep it clean

  • 50% of men and 25% of women don't wash their hands after using the restroom.
  • We have between 2 and 10 million bacteria between fingertip and elbow.
  • Damp hands spread 1,000 times more germs than dry hands.
  • The number of germs on your fingertips doubles after you use the toilet.
  • Germs can stay alive on hands for up to three hours.
  • Hand washing should occur at least 10 times a day.

Eat for Wellness

  • Yogurt contains probiotics, one probiotic supplement a day reduces sick days by 33%.
  • Oats and barley contain beta-glucan, a fiber with antimicrobial and antioxidant effects - these help antibiotics work better.
  • Watermelon and Broccoli contain glutathione, which stimulates your immune system.
  • Sweet Potato contains Beta-Carotene (which convert to Vit A) and builds healthy skin (first defense against bacteria and viruses).
  • Green tea can help antibiotics be three times more effective in fighting drug-resistant bacteria, even superbugs.

Take As Directed

  • Don't stop treatment a few days early because you're feeling better.
  • Taking the full course of antibiotics is the only way to kill all of the harmful bacteria.
  • A shortened course of antibiotics, on the other hand, often wipes out only the most vulnerable bacteria while allowing relatively resistant bacteria to survive.
  • Never take antibiotics without a perscription