July 21, 2018

National Antibiotic Awareness Week

14 November 2017, 02:20 | Silvia Roy

National Antibiotic Awareness Week

Three farm pigs looking at the camera

"Education about the importance of taking antibiotics as recommended by a health professional, not sharing them, and reporting adverse effects, is key to managing the use of antibiotics well".

For example, antibiotic-resistant gonorrhoea has now become nothing short of a major health crisis. In addition, in a growing number of European countries, there is an active policy to reduce antibiotics on-farm for disease treatment as much as possible, predominantly by looking for alternative ways of disease prevention.

World Antibiotic Awareness Week is observed annually during the month of November. An immediate press release stated: "A ban on disease prevention uses of antibiotics in food-animal production being advocated by the World Health Organization would be ill-advised and wrong". The majority of sore throats are also viral - although it is important to check you don't have tonsillitis due to the streptococcal bacteria, once this has been ruled out antibiotics aren't necessary.

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Professor Alison Holmes, Director of the NIHR HRPU in Healthcare Associated Infection and Antimicrobial Resistance, said: "Antibiotic resistance is a serious global threat and we are already seeing its impact first hand in the NHS".

According to the CDC, 2 million people become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics every year and at least 23,000 people die as a direct result of these infections.

As we know, antibiotics are only effective against bacteria, as opposed to viruses. They simply will not work for them. Where they can be bought for human or animal use without a prescription, the emergence and spread of resistance is made worse. In fact, some say they could do more harm than good. Failure to do so only partially treats infections and encourages the development of resistance. Therefore, left over antibiotics should not be shared between family and friends or using left over antibiotics from a previous illness. They will also help in identifying the bacteria that make people sick and specific groups that are at risk.

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Another reason not to self-diagnose and treat, is that antibiotics are sometimes taken for conditions where no type of infection, bacterial or otherwise, exists.

"A lot of times people come in expecting physicians in here to prescribe antibiotics for their cold symptoms", says Nguyen. Taking only part of a course of antibiotics, sharing them with someone else, missing doses or "stock-piling" them for a future occasion all contribute to increased resistance in the community.

The International Poultry Council also questioned WHO's stance on antibiotics, noting that "the IPC is very concerned that the World Health Organization guidelines inappropriately tie the hands of producers and limit their options for using antimicrobials for prevention, control and treatment of diseases based on specific need".

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