World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW)
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World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW) aims to increase awareness of global antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and to encourage best practices among the general public, health workers and policy makers to avoid the further emergence and spread of drug-resistant infections.

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites resist the effects of medications, making common infections harder to treat and increasing the risk of disease spread, severe illness and death. 

Antimicrobials are agents that are critical tools for fighting diseases in humans, animals and plants and include antibiotic, antiviral, antifungal and antiprotozoal medicines. Multiple factors – including overuse of medicines in humans, livestock, and agriculture, as well as poor access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene – have accelerated the threat of antimicrobial resistance worldwide.

Following a stakeholder's consultation meeting in May 2020 organised by the Tripartite Organizations (the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and World Health Organization (WHO)) the scope of WAAW was expanded, changing its focus from 'antibiotics' to the more encompassing and inclusive term 'antimicrobials'.

(Source: WHO website)

The University continues to promote antimicrobial resistance messages from the UK government and Public Health England as well as WHO outside of World Antimicrobial Awareness Week. 

The University is engaged in cross-disciplinary research into antimicrobial resistance. From examining deep-sea sponges in the search for new antibiotics, to inventing new technologies to detect antibiotic resistance in blood samples, for more effective prescribing of antibiotics.

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Today's events

Great University Science Quiz

Wednesday 18 November, 19:00 (via Zoom) 

Tickets from bit.ly/greatuniversitysciencequiz

All UK undergraduate students are invited to take part in the inaugural Great University Science Quiz, a fun event that you can take part in from the comfort of your sofa whatever the restrictions. Pit your wits against students from other universities to see who will be crowned winner.

The quiz is designed to engage the next generation of doctors, nurses, pharmacists, scientists and more with the global health crisis that is antibiotic resistance and to raise money to fund research and patient support. 

The details...

  • Up to six undergraduates per team – your university/society can enter as many teams as you would like.
  • Tickets £5 per head (each team member needs their own ticket) with prizes for the winning teams.
  • Five science rounds with ten questions per round. Confirmed presenters so far are: Monica Grady (space round) and Jim Al-Khalili (chemistry round).

Organised by Antibiotic Research UK

Why is AMR increasing?

Misuse and overuse of antimicrobials in humans, animals and plants

Misuse and overuse of antimicrobials in humans, animals and plants are the main drivers in the development of drug-resistant infections. Poor medical prescribing practices and patient adherence to treatment also contribute. For example, antibiotics kill bacteria, but they cannot kill viral infections like colds and flu. Often they are incorrectly prescribed for those illnesses, or taken without proper medical oversight. Antibiotics are also commonly overused in farm animals and agriculture. 

Lack of access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) for both humans and animals

Lack of clean water and sanitation in healthcare facilities, farms and community settings and inadequate infection prevention and control promotes the emergence and spread of drug-resistant infections.

COVID-19

The misuse of antibiotics during the COVID-19 pandemic could lead to accelerated emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistance. COVID-19 is caused by a virus, not by a bacteria and therefore antibiotics should not be used to prevent or treat viral infections, unless bacterial infections are also present.

(Source: WHO website)

Antimicrobials: Handle with care

As resistance grows to a wider range of drugs, WHO has broadened the focus of this campaign from antibiotics to all antimicrobials. The theme for World Antimicrobial Awareness Week 2020 for the human health sector is “United to preserve antimicrobials.”

The differences between bacteria and viruses - Dr Tina Joshi, Lecturer in Molecular Microbiology

"While both bacteria and viruses are capable of causing infections, there are some fundamental differences between the two microorganisms.

Did you know that viruses do not have their own cell machinery? This means that they use the host’s cell to survive and replicate (reproduce). For example, viruses that infect humans will enter the human and replicate in specific cells that they target. The virus will enter those human cells and “tell” the cell machinery to make more virus copies! This is almost like a “hijacking” of the cell. The cell then produces virus parts like proteins, RNA and DNA, which are bought together and thus more copies of the virus are made. Eventually these copies/new viruses break out of the human cell and go on to infect new host cells. Viruses cannot multiply or survive for long without using a living host.

Viruses also have a different structure to bacteria - they are made up of proteins, glycoproteins and nucleic acids only. Bacteria have their own cell wall, have their own cellular content and are able to reproduce and survive by themselves. Viruses are very tiny compared to bacteria- approximately 1000 times smaller (in nanometres - nm) whereas bacteria are measured in micrometres (µm). 

Finally, antibiotics will kill or damage bacteria only. Antiviral drugs are needed to combat viruses, and antivirals are usually designed to target and stop the virus replication process.”

FUTURES2020: Research on your doorstep: online science |
Friday 27 November, 10:00-12:00

As part of FUTURES2020, schools and young people are invited to spend time with researchers from the University as they investigate some of the biggest challenges in the science world today from Plymouth's favourite marine venues, including the National Marine Aquarium. The free virtual event includes talks on superbugs, marine litter, exploring our solar system, and getting up close with sea snails and jellyfish. 

The rise of superbugs: science battles back - Dr Tina Joshi, Lecturer in Molecular Microbiology 

  • Why are untreatable and new infectious diseases on the rise? 
  • Does this have anything to do with Climate Change? 
  • Can humans fight back using science to win this battle?

Tina explores these questions and the science behind the rise of superbugs and infectious diseases today.

Find out more and book your place

Plymouth Institute of Health and Care Research

From basic research discovering the causes of disease, through to evaluating novel ways of delivering care to the most vulnerable people in society, our thriving community conducts adventurous world-leading research.

Transformation in life course, ageing, methodologies, e-health, technology and interventions in health, social care, lifestyle and wellbeing.

Find out more about our research

Event photography and video

Please be aware that some of the University of Plymouth's public events (both online and offline) may be attended by University staff, photographers and videographers, for capturing content to be used in University online and offline marketing and promotional materials, for example webpages, brochures or leaflets. If you, or a member of your group, do not wish to be photographed or recorded, please let a member of staff know.