The Centers for Disease Control has a new classification of the threat levels of different types of resistant infections. The most serious bacterial infections, which are very hard to treat, are carbapenem resistant enterobactereciae, Clostridium difficile and resistant strains of gonorrhea. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that more than 2 million Americans develop antibiotic-resistant infections each year and 23,000 die of the infections.
Doctors and patients can reduce the development of resistant strains of bacteria by limiting antibiotic use to illnesses that truly warrant treatment. Examples of infections that generally do not require antibiotics include upper respiratory infections. Patients should complete the entire course of antibiotics when prescribed. Stopping early or taking someone else’s antibiotic can increase the chance of developing resistant bacteria.
When you take an antibiotic, a certain number of bacteria develop resistance. These can overgrow and spread the resistance to other bacteria. When antibiotics are used, they kill bacteria throughout the body. When the beneficial bacteria in the gut are killed, serious bacterial infections, such as Clostridium difficile, can occur. Talk to your doctor to see if an antibiotic is truly needed for your condition.
Resistant bacteria are in our meat supply, especially when animals are given antibiotics. Handwashing is the single most important measure to prevent ingesting these resistant bacteria. It is vital that you wash your hands before and after preparing raw meat, and don’t allow raw meat to come in contact with other foods. Washing hands after using the bathroom also helps prevent the spread of resistant bacteria.
Mayo Clinic Florida has patient safety and quality initiatives to prevent the spread of resistant bacteria and to decrease the number of hospital acquired infections.
Last updated by Dr. Vee on September 24, 2014