Should we be worried about antibiotic-resistant bacteria?
On September last year, a woman died from an infection caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Is it something that we should get worried about?
Antibiotics are commonly used by doctors in order to treat patients who have bacterial infections as a sure-fire way to kill bacteria. However, a rise in the number of infections from bacteria that's resistant to most antibiotics has prompted scientists and public health officials to action.
What exactly is antibiotic-resistant bacteria?
In a nutshell, antibiotic-resistant bacteria is basically a strain of bacteria that's resistant to all forms of antibiotics. This means that there's really no effective way of treating these infections.
An example would be the case of a woman in her 70's who had been infected with carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) back in 2016. Doctors were unable to stop the spread of the infection, and sadly, the woman died as a result. The worrying thing is that while antibiotic-resistant bacteria might be relatively 'new', it doesn't necessarily mean that it won't become more common in the future.
Where does it come from?
Now, you might be wondering, how in the world did an antibiotic-resistant strain of bacteria come about? Well, just as humans develop immunity to certain types of diseases, bacteria can also mutate to develop different strains that are immune to specific types of antibiotics. In this case, the bacteria evolved to become immune to all modern forms of antibiotics.
Typically, it takes a long time before bacteria can develop a resistance to antibiotics, but due the overuse of antibiotics has led to more and more strains of bacteria that's resistant to antibiotics.
That's why it's a constant battle for scientists to develop new antibiotics that can combat these new bacterial strains, since bacteria are constantly adapting to antibiotics.
What can parents do?
For parents, their children's health is one of the most important things on their mind. That's why antibiotic resistant bacteria can sound really scary since there's no treatment for it. However, there are a lot of things that parents can do to reduce the risk that their children get infected.
One way would be to always keep your children healthy by giving them a healthy diet, as well as encouraging exercise. Having a strong immune system is also extremely important, so for parents who have babies, it's important to breastfeed as much as possible.
Another way is for parents to use antibiotics only when necessary. These days, some people and even some doctors, diagnose antibiotics even for relatively small infections. This rampant overuse of antibiotics has actually contributed to the prevalence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. So if you feel that your doctor might be prescribing too many antibiotics, don't be afraid to get a second opinion.
The bottom line is that we should always do our best to keep our kids healthy, as being healthy is always the first line of defense against infection.
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