We’ve been telling you for years about the medical community’s concern for the impact of overuse of antibiotics, and at a recent speech in Great Britain the nation’s chief medical officer warned the world is nearing the tipping point. Dame Sallie Davies told the audience that three million common surgeries, from knee replacements to Caesarian sections, could become risky as infections become resistant to antibiotics.
We asked Baylor University School of Medicine Physician Assistant and instructor of Family and Community Medicine Isabel Valdez to give us an estimate on a scale of 1 to 10, ten being high, how close civilization is to the tipping point. “I would say the public’s risk is at about a 7 or 8 of being hurt by the overuse of antibiotics,” she tells KTRH News.
A British study finds bloodstream infections are up 35% from 2013 to 2017.
“It’s a really high number because we don’t have new antibiotics in the pipeline that can help cure infections, so we only have very few antibiotics that we can use,” says Valdez. It’s that failure to develop new antibiotics that feeds the cycle of resistance to existing ones.
Concerns of bio-terrorism and genetic manipulation of pathogens raise new concerns, but a means of addressing those threats hasn’t developed.
Valdez says the best way to avoid antibiotic overuse is…to not overuse them, and your doctor is best at assessing your needs. She reminds that when prescribed, the medication should be taken until it runs out even if the infection is gone. It is never advised to self-medicate if you have leftovers from a previous infection.
And remember, as we go into another flu season, influenza is caused by a virus not bacteria, and isn’t treated with antibiotics.