"Germs that defy antibiotics are now a major global health threat, causing near-untreatable cases of diarrhea, sepsis, pneumonia and gonorrhea, the World Health Organization said Wednesday.
Overuse and misuse of antibiotics are to blame, and the WHO’s been warning about the problem for years but it keeps worsening, says Dr. Keiji Fukuda, WHO’s Assistant Director-General for Health Security."
It sounds scary, and antibiotic-resistant bacteria are creating current problems and can create future issues, but we wanted to break down what it means to you and what steps we can take on an individual level to abate the problem. Biology Professor Jeff Wiles of Middle Georgia State University says the overuse and misuse of antibiotics are a large part of the problem. If a person catches a resistant strain of bacteria, the illness can be more severe, last longer and has a higher potential to be fatal. What any of us can do on a smaller scale is make sure our vaccines are updated, take our full dosage of antibiotics when we get sick, and always make sure to wash our hands fully (between the fingers, under the nails, etc.).
In regards to taking a full dosage of antibiotics, there is a tendency for some people to stop taking their doctor-prescribed antibiotics when they start to feel better. However, doing so only kills off the least-resistant bacteria.
"The most-resistant ones are going to survive and they'll thrive. You'll have removed the least-resistant ones from the population, and now you have a population of more-resistant bacteria. And that's just a spiral that will continue to make things worse and worse."