You go to the doctor’s in pain, and you think it might be an infection. A course of antibiotics should be able to cure it, right?
Well, not necessarily. For while we’ve grown accustomed to antibiotics underpinning modern medicine, they themselves are now under threat from drug-resistant bacteria. Indeed, a recent government report has shown that drug-resistant infections are set to kill more people than cancer and diabetes combined by 2050 – making antibiotic resistance one of the biggest threats to global human health.
There is a critical need for new antibiotics, and scientists around the world, including here at the University of Plymouth, are working to develop what would be the first new class of drug in three decades. But there is a role that we can all play when it comes to helping to preserve our existing antibiotics.
Next week is World Antibiotic Awareness Week. Orchestrated by the World Health Organization, the week is designed to engage everybody with the issue of antibiotic resistance, and to encourage best practice among the general public, health workers and policy makers alike.
And what does that look like for us? Well, here are some things that we can all do:
- We shouldn’t take antibiotics unless they’re prescribed, otherwise our bodies may well become used to them, and become resistant to their effects. We should use them sparingly.
- If you are prescribed antibiotics, you should take the full course, as prescribed by the healthcare professional. So, no skipping doses, otherwise the bacteria might become resistant.
- You should take antibiotics for a bacterial infection only – they do not work for viral colds and flu.
- Never save or stockpile antibiotics for when you get sick.
- There is no added benefit to using soaps with antibacterial agents when compared with plain soap.
- We can all spread the word about antibiotic resistance. Tell your family and friends to preserve antibiotics and keep them working for future generations!
This is part of our ongoing commitment to educate the public about the dangers of antimicrobial resistance, and we regularly speak at local events. If you would like to find out more about our research that is focused on the development of new antibiotics and point-of-care diagnostics to help appropriate antibiotic prescribing, there is more information available on the University website, via the links below.