Ten ways to avoid falling victim to an antibiotic-resistant bacterial infection
The most common question I get from interviewers and the public when discussing the public health crisis around increasing rates of bacterial resistance to antibiotics, is: What can people do to protect themselves?. There are two parts to the answer; the first is what you can do for yourself, the second is what healthcare professionals (HCPs) and employers should be doing for you.
Why should you care about antibiotic resistance?
The past two years have made us painfully aware of the health and social consequences of a pandemic. Covid-19’s onset was abrupt, its spread rapid, and its toll overwhelming. With all eyes focused on preventing a future, similar catastrophe, we are ignoring the slower development of a pandemic of bacteria resistant to antibiotics that is happening in the here and now, undermining the ability to treat you for common infections and meet medical needs that you take for granted. If you haven’t heard about antibiotic resistance in bacteria, it’s time you did, and it’s time to take notice.
This is not someone else’s problem. It affects you, whether or not you are the one taking antibiotics. Here’s why: if I prescribe you medicine for high blood pressure, diabetes or headaches, that medicine affects you alone. With antibiotics, it’s different. If you take an antibiotic, bacteria that live in and on your body that are able by chance to resist the action of that antibiotic, will survive and replicate, and can become dominant, resulting in infection with that resistant bacterium in the future (reducing your chance of successful treatment) and/or transfer to other people, through your touch. Equally, you may be the recipient of a bacterium resistant to antibiotics through contact with others who have had an antibiotic. To reiterate, this problem affects us all.
A total of 1.27 million people died in 2019 because of a bacterial infection resistant to antibiotics but that figure is unlikely to move you, since quoting large numbers such as this tends to leave people detached and disenfranchised. But what should catch your attention is that the pandemic of bacterial resistance to antibiotics is threatening your chance of being treated for everyday medical and surgical problems. And it’s not something that you can just throw money at to solve.
To illustrate the problem, ...