Keep Your Family Safe This Summer

There was a report
last week that a 49 year old Pennsylvania woman was the first person in the U.S. with a bacterial infection that could not be treated by Colistin, an antibiotic of last resort. This raised alarm in public health officials and infectious disease experts who had been warning that indiscriminate overuse of antibiotics would someday make them ineffective against bacteria that have become resistant to the antibiotics now in use.

The E. coli bacteria carried by the woman contained a gene that is resistant to Colistan, a last resort antibiotic used for the most dangerous “nightmare bacteria” that could kill 50 percent of infected patients. The worry is that this gene can spread to other bacteria, resulting in superbugs causing untreatable infections.

Pharmaceutical companies had not been doing the research and development of new antibiotics because of low returns. However, two recent events show that this problem is finally being addressed. In January, 2016, a Declaration on Combating Antimicrobial Resistance
was signed by 85 international pharmaceutical and research companies declaring support of efforts to prevent drug-resistant infections. Last year, Congress approved the additional funding of federal agencies engaged in this fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

How can the average person join this fight? One way is to maintain a healthy life style. Another is to be informed about antibiotics and their proper use. For example, respiratory illnesses caused by viruses are not treatable with antibiotics. And always wash hands and cook meat thoroughly.