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Do You Know Enough About Antibiotic Resistance?

Antibiotic resistance poses one of the greatest threats to global health and so-called “superbug” infections continue to grow. The latest World Health Organization (WHO) survey shows widespread confusion surrounding antibiotic resistance in developing countries.

The WHO reveals that those most affected by and at risk for antibiotic-resistant infections are confused about them. This poses a challenge to the treatment and eradication of antibiotic-resistant infections, which are propagating all over the world.

“Antibiotic resistance is occurring everywhere in the world, compromising the treatment of infectious diseases and undermining many other advances in health and medicine,” says the WHO.

According to the Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics, bacteria become resistant either by a genetic mutation or by acquiring resistance from another bacterium.

The survey, carried out in September and October 2015, covered 12 countries including Barbados, China, Egypt and India. The statistics cover the countries’ use of antibiotics and knowledge of antibiotics and antibiotic resistance.

The results were below expectations. Although respondents acknowledged that antibiotic resistance is a threat to them and their families, they did not fully understand how it affects them or what they can do to protect themselves.

According to the findings, “64 percent of respondents believe antibiotics can be used to treat colds and flu, despite the fact that antibiotics have no impact on viruses.”

Almost one-third of respondents believe they should stop taking antibiotics when they feel better, rather than for the full course of the prescription, which is also incorrect.

This uncertainty is occurring at a time when the threat of antibiotic resistance is reaching a peak. Deaths caused by antibiotic-resistant infections, known as “superbugs,” are growing faster than we are able to respond to them. The death rate for patients with infections caused by common but resistant bacteria treated in hospitals can be about twice that of patients with infections caused by the same non-resistant bacteria, says the WHO.

With results as pronounced as these, the WHO has started a new campaign to increase global awareness and improve understanding of the problem of antibiotic resistance.

Ashley Tressel

Sources: WHO 1, WHO 2, WHO 3, TUFTS
Photo: Joint Programming Initiative on Antimicrobial Resistance