The World Health Organization acknowledges the third week of November as World Antimicrobial Awareness Week. Celebrated annually, this week “aims to increase awareness of global antimicrobial (antibiotics) resistance and to encourage best practices among the general public, health workers and policymakers to avoid the further emergence and spread of drug-resistant infections.”

 

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites resist the effects of medications, making common infections harder to treat and increasing the risk of disease spread, severe illness, and death. Antimicrobials are used to fight diseases in humans, animals, and plants and include antibiotic, antiviral, antifungal, and antiparasitic medicines.”

 

The History of Antibiotics

Antibiotics are considered one of the greatest advancements in medicine. The term antibiotics mean “against life.” There are many types of antibiotics – all of which fight infection by killing bacteria to stop the replication of germs. The first true antibiotic, penicillin, was discovered by Alexander Fleming, Professor of Bacteriology at St. Mary’s Hospital in London. Since then, antibiotics have been known to treat a variety of infections caused by bacteria. These include strep throat, urinary tract infections, pneumonia, and sepsis. Antibiotics are not effective in treating viruses such as the common cold, flu, or sore throats.

 

Antibiotic Overuse & Resistance

Antibiotic overuse and resistance have become an ongoing concern in the treatment of infections. Too many antibiotics are being prescribed unnecessarily, which ultimately weakens the effectiveness and treatment. Due to overprescribing, many germs that once responded to antibiotics have become more and more resistant. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates “about 47 million antibiotic courses are prescribed for infections that don’t need antibiotics, like for colds and the flu, in U.S. doctors’ offices and emergency departments each year. That’s about 30% of all antibiotics prescribed in these settings.”

 

What You Can Do

By taking antibiotics only as needed, you can protect yourself and those around you. Antibiotic resistance can stall advancements in modern human healthcare, as well as veterinarian and agricultural advancements.

 

  • Get recommended vaccines.
  • Take your prescribed antibiotics for the entire course.
  • Thoroughly wash hands.
  • Do not take antibiotics prescribed to someone else.
  • Do not keep antibiotics “for the next time.”
  • Stay home when sick.

 

For more information on antibiotic prescribing and use, visit here.

 

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