The misuse of antibiotics has very quickly become one of the world’s most dangerous health problems and will soon surpass cancer as the number one cause of deaths across the globe.
In the United States alone, at least two million illnesses and 23000 deaths are currently caused by antibiotic-resistant infections, and these figures continue to climb as the country dishes out unnecessary prescriptions for common colds and viruses.
It doesn’t stop there – 70 to 80 percent of these human medicine antibiotic courses are being sold on for use in animal agriculture – that’s more than 24.6 million pounds of moot medication for animals and another 3 million pounds for all of us – and counting!
The use of all of these antibiotics is precisely what has made us resistant to them according to the CDC. We get a scratchy throat, a sore ear or a running nose and we speed off to the doctor for a script that will quickly hide our symptoms and allow us to go on with our day. We then rush to the grocery store and load up on perceivably healthy protein, which is also full of antibiotics that were used to prevent diseases and promote fast growth in the animals we eat. Chicken soup, anyone?
Every day, we are oblivious to the fact that the medicines we take and the food that we eat are slowly but surely resulting in bacteria building up resistance in our systems. This resistance is getting tougher, superbugs are getting stronger, and as time passes, conventional procedures may start becoming fatal.
Treating wounds, having surgery and giving birth without drugs that can prevent secondary infections and suppress our immune systems is virtually impossible and will lead to what scientists fear will be an ‘antibiotic apocalypse.’
This disaster has led to the antibiotic of last resort – a more toxic, more expensive, less effective drug known as ‘Colistin,’ – now becoming resistant across the globe. What happens when all our lines of treatment are terminated?
The impact of the shortcuts we are taking to ‘get rich quick’ will certainly leave us poorer than we can even begin to imagine. It’s not just the tourism, personal hygiene, farming and medical practice industries that will be catastrophically affected. We will all be catastrophically affected.
Recently, a woman from Nevada died of an infection that was resistant to 26 antibiotics – which is pretty much every single remedy available within the United States. This epidemic will continue if we don’t start working towards better antibiotic controls and agricultural supervision now.
Finding a Solution
Thanks to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are already programs in place that are tracking and gathering intelligence information to combat antibiotic-resistant infections.
What we choose to do with this information though, is up to every single one of us. Medical companies need to start focusing less on quick profit and more on new medication – they have not developed new antibiotics for about three decades because it just does not pay to be innovative. Doctors and nurses need to administer and dispose of drugs responsibly – and they need to brush up on their skills when it comes to identifying the most effective drugs of choice, something the CDC can help them with.
Just as importantly, we need to reduce our dependency on ‘quick fix’ scripts. We need to be as sanitary as possible and do everything we can to prevent our infections from spreading. Get vaccinated, wash your hands frequently, avoid others when you are ill, use single-use tissues, cough and sneeze into your arm and not your hand – and most definitely, be smart about the food that you eat.
Don’t stand by and let the common cold become your excuse for a trip to the doctor, a drug prescription, and a sick note. Don’t be the reason the world is in danger.