STATES CHRONICLE – The increasing number of diseases that gain antibiotic-resistance has got the global medical community worried that antibiotics are slowly but surely losing their viability. In order to stress the importance of using antibiotics more wisely, the World Health Organization launched the first World Antibiotic Awareness Week.
At the same time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are sponsoring the “Get Smart” campaign, a week-long project aimed at raising awareness of the threat presented by antibiotic resistance. According to their latest reports, approximately 23,000 of the deaths occurring each year in the U.S. are caused by antibiotic resistant infections.
Appropriate use of antibiotics in people is not the only focus during this awareness week, as WHO wants the public to realize the astounding implications of antibiotic abuse in animal agriculture, as well. The connection is simple: antibiotic use in livestock turns into antibiotic resistance in bacteria, which in turn raises the risk for children to contract antibiotic resistant infections.
A report published by the American Academy of Pediatrics also mentioned that abusing antibiotics in food-producing livestock is adding unnecessary burdens of medicine’s ability to treat infections in younger patients.
Senior author of the report Jerome A. Paulson, MD, said that drug resistant bacteria are often the cause of hard-to-treat infections; children can be exposed to these through contact with the animals given antibiotics or by eating the meat of those animals.
Shockingly, nearly 80 percent of overall use of antibiotics in the U.S. occurs in livestock. Even though some of these antibiotics are administered for fighting illness, plenty more are prescribed in abusive form for growth promotion and feed efficiency.
Back in 2013, the FDA proposed a strategy for cutting the use of antibiotics important for humans from food animals, but unfortunately did not ban – or even regulate – antibiotic use for nontherapeutic reasons. Sustaining this overuse of antibiotics is bound to result in even more antibiotic resistant organisms causing stubborn infections in patients.
Launched under the slogan “Antibiotics: Handle with care,” WHO’s awareness week has made it its priority to reduce antimicrobial and antibiotic resistance on a global level. There is a list of practical and preventive steps people can follow, such as not sharing the medication prescribed to them with family or friends, even if they suffer from the same condition.
At the same time, the WHO stressed the importance of prevention above cure, recommending people to minimize contact with the sick, stay up to date with vaccinations and wash hands to prevent infections.
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