The Centers for Disease Control has released a new report on “superbugs” — and the findings are sobering. Germs that resist antibiotics are responsible for roughly two million infections and 23,000 deaths in the U.S. each year.
And area doctors say reducing the serious health threat of superbugs will require a multi-pronged approach
Antibiotics work because they kill bacteria. The problem is, in time, certain bacteria outsmart the antibiotics. They become stronger, meaner and more aggressive.
Antibiotics are the only class of drugs that can harm an individual who is not taking them, according to Neil Fishman, associate chief medical officer of the University of Pennsylvania Health System,
Fishman, who contributed to the CDC report, said the overprescription of antibiotics in cases when they are really not needed, or don’t even work, is a big part of the problem.
Another major problem is the use of antibiotics in raising animals in food production.
“As much as 80 percent of antibiotics produced in the U.S. are used to promote growth in livestock,” he said.
Fishman has been meeting with politicians to ask them to support bills that would reduce the use of antibiotics in raising livestock.
Doctors should be more cautious in prescribing antibiotics, said Fishman, who suggested patients to exercise caution as well.
Another contributor to the report agreed.
Patients should double-check with their physician before filling a prescription, advised Theo Zaoutis, assistant chief of the Division of Infectious Disease at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
“Make sure you ask the question, ‘Do I really need this antibiotic? Am I infected with a bacteria or a virus?’ because viruses typically do not require antibiotic therapy,” Zaoutis said.
Patients should also ask about side effects and make sure they’re being given the narrowest spectrum antibiotic to treat infection, he said.