Antibiotic medications are used to treat bacterial infections.1 Between 1935 and 1968 there were ground-breaking advances in the development of antibiotics with the discovery of twelve major classes of antibiotics during this period.2 Antibiotics became very effective in treating a vast variety of bacterial infections and led to a significant decrease in deaths related to infectious diseases until the beginning of the early 2000’s. Unfortunately, the prevalence of antibiotic resistance gradually started to increase and in 2007 an estimated 30 million people died from infectious diseases worldwide. Since the 1900’s, only two new antibiotics have been discovered. Bacteria developed resistance to the miracle drugs faster than modern medicine could keep up. Now we face an era in which antibiotics which previously treated bacterial infections are no longer as effective, leading to re-infection, complications and increased fatalities.3
Setting the scene A case of Mr. MA, a 39 year old male, had minor symptoms of a throat infection which eventually transformed into a life-threatening emergency. The patient was infected with resistant bacteria which lead to serious progression of the disease as each antibiotic therapy failed to treat his condition. Mr. MA’s body ultimately went into toxic shock as the bacteria continued to multiply and doctors, left with no alternatives, made the decision to amputate his arms and legs. What started as a simple infection became far more complicated due to antibiotic resistance.4
What are the facts5:
- Antibiotic resistance is currently one of the greatest threats to human health.
- By 2050 infectious diseases are projected to cause an extra 10 million fatalities worldwide per annum.
- Australian health practitioners issue over 29 million prescriptions for antibiotics each year.
- The cost of providing treatment for infectious diseases is estimated to reach 100 trillion dollars worldwide in the year 2050.
- Without antibiotics, we are entering an era in which common infections that were once easily treated may once again kill.5
What can we do to help5:
- Trust your health practitioner’s judgement when deciding whether antibiotic therapy for your illness is justified.
- Understand that antibiotics do not treat viral infections such as the common cold and flu.
- Only take antibiotics as directed by your health professional for the intended duration or treatment.
- Do not share antibiotics with friends and family, infections with similar symptoms are not necessarily caused by the same bacteria.
- Ask your pharmacist about safely discarding unused antibiotics
- Keep up to date with vaccinations
- Prevent the spread of germs by practising good hygiene.
- With your help we can extend the life of these revolutionary medicines and protect ourselves and generations to come.
Created by Thisari Dharmapriya
Adapted by Kw
- Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria, Better Health Channel [Internet]. Department of Health and Human Services; [updated 2015 February; cited 2016 November 16]. Available from: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/antibiotic-resistant-bacteria
- Antibiotics and Antibiotic Resistance [internet]. Food and Drug Administration; [updated 2014 September 18; cited 2016 November 16]. Available from: http://www.fda.gov/drugs/resourcesforyou/consumers/buyingusingmedicinesafely/antibioticsandantibioticresistance/default.htm
- Antimicrobial resistance: global report on surveillance. World Health Organisation [internet]. June 2014 [cited 2016 November 16]; pages 1-3. Available from: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/antibiotic-resistance/en/
- Antibiotic Resistance [internet]. World Health Organisation; [updated 2016 October; cited 2016 November 16]. Available from: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/antibiotic-resistance/en/
- Antibiotic awareness week: About the issue [internet]. National Prescribers Service; [updated 2016 October 2011; cited 2016 November 16]. Available from: http://www.nps.org.au/about-us/what-we-do/campaigns-events/antibiotic-awareness-week/for-individuals/the-issue