Augusta, Ga. Antibiotic resistance is an international reality whose solution includes better educating physicians about using bacteria-fighting tools, says an infectious disease physician.
"The big problem is the overuse of antibiotics in hospitals and communities because not only can they lead to side effects like rashes and colon damage, one of those side effects is development of multidrug-resistant organisms," said Dr. Josѐ A. Vazquez, Chief of the Section of Infectious Diseases at the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University.
These "bad bugs' know no bounds, said Vazquez, who is part of a panel discussing problems and solutions at the International Union of Microbiological Societies Conference on Antimicrobial Resistance being held in collaboration with the Cuban Society of Microbiology and Parasitology Nov. 14-16 in Havana.
In fact, despite its somewhat isolated status, Cuba is experiencing the same problem with antibiotic resistance as the United States and elsewhere, Vazquez said. Regardless of the country or whether it's a hospital or physician's office, the problem begins with overprescribing, and worsens with smart bacteria mutating to survive the drugs, the slightly-stronger bacteria being transferred among us, and few new antibiotics in the pipeline to stop them.
"If I am taking an antibiotic for something I don't need, it's a risk factor," Vazquez said. The unnecessary exposure may prompt a bacterium to mutate which can be as simple as altering a single protein to escape elimination, and become resistant, at least to that drug.
But the math quickly works against patients. Many antibiotics are essentially families of drugs so resistance to one may wipe out the effectiveness of several, he said. And it's easy to spread the new bacterium through casual encounters, like hugging a relative or touching a doorknob. "You transmit it to your husband, your brother, your kids, and
|Contact: Toni Baker|
Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University