That's why infectious disease specialists like Vazquez and professional organizations like the Infectious Diseases Society of America and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are advocating a multi-front retaliation. In fact, the Infectious Diseases Society of America has been making noise for more than a decade, with its Bad Bugs, No Drugs campaign calling upon the federal government and others to take decisive action.
Emerging initiatives include antimicrobial stewardship programs that keep tabs on the antibiotics physicians prescribe and following up with education when inappropriate trends surface. "We keep track to make sure patients are on the right antibiotic for the bug they have and use, when possible, a narrow spectrum antibiotic, instead of a broad-spectrum antibiotic," he said. Vazquez, who joined the MCG faculty this summer, is starting an antimicrobial stewardship program at Georgia Regents Health System.
In addition, to try and nip the problem in the bud, medical schools and residency training sites also need to beef up their educational efforts on the topic of appropriate antibiotic selection, said Vazquez, who is working on ways to do that at MCG and the GR Health System as well.
Vazquez notes that short-term side effects of antibiotics can include diffuse rashes, colitis, kidney failure, seizures, and even an increased risk of retinal detachment. Long-term antibiotic use also frequently leads to fungal infections, like invasive candidiasis, or thrush, because it can also destroy protective bacteria in the body.
However, selectively used, these drugs are needed to cure serious bacterial and fungal infections like pneumonia, cellulitis, and potentially even MRSA, one of the super bugs that resulted from antibiotic abuse.
|Contact: Toni Baker|
Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University