Many disease-causing bacteria are now resistant to antibiotics that once aided in removing them from our bodies, meaning they are learning to defend themselves against these drugs. Once they have learned how to do so, they are able to survive and take over, then pass that information on to other germs. We have been calling these germs antibiotic-resistant (AR) bacteria or superbugs.
You may have heard of MRSA, or Methicillin–resistant Staphylococcus aureus, an AR that attacks the skin and soft tissue. This nasty germ has become so hard to treat due to the fact that we are no longer able to use certain types of antibiotics to treat it.
MRSA is just one of many superbugs. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria kill more than 23,000 Americans each year.
But what if the bacteria become resistant to ALL or nearly all of the antibiotics known to treat it?
That would be a nightmare.
No, that’s reality. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are 221 known germs resistant to all or most antibiotics, leaving diseases caused by these germs nearly, or fully untreatable. And they’re calling them Nightmare Bacteria.
Not only do they exist but they’re spreading. One study found that 25% of the tested bacteria had special genes that allow them to spread resistance to other bacteria. And another study showed that 10% of people screened were carrying at least one resistant bacteria, which they can pass without even knowing it.
So what do we do about it?
Right now we need to stay on top of the problem.
Researchers are working to develop new antibiotics and find ways of stopping bacteria without antibiotics. But those solutions take time.
Antibiotics need to be given out properly. According to the CDC, 30% of the time physicians prescribe unnecessary antibiotics.
Giving antibiotics when you have a viral infection like the cold or flu, will not treat the virus. When you take antibiotics for a viral infection it may kill the healthy bacteria in the gut, allowing more harmful bacteria to grow in its place–-bacteria that can cause actual bacterial infection, which may become antibiotic-resistant.
So, how can YOU help stop resistance?
- Do NOT pressure your doctor to give you or your child unnecessary antibiotics (they won’t help, anyway)
- Take your antibiotics exactly as prescribed
- Never skip a dose
- Never stop taking an antibiotic early because you feel better
- Never save antibiotics for next time you become sick
- Never take someone else’s antibiotics
- Wash your hands!
For more information on nightmare bacteria please read the Centers for Disease Control’s new Vital Signs report.