As more antibiotic resistant bacteria strains are discovered, more people are becoming aware of the growing need to improve antibiotics (or move to an alternative treatment for infections).
However, the bulk of research and money is currently being spent on anti-virals for (admittedly scary) diseases like AIDS. Why? Speculations include: 1) better PR (esp. when celebrities are affected) 2) more profit (developing new antibiotics is incredibly costly, since bacteria are now evolving so fast) 3) more prestige/interest (the fields surrounding combating viruses, like immunology, offer relatively new ground for scientists).
What needs more attention is the fact that MRSA is a growing killer in the US, claiming more lives than other serious diseases, including AIDS, flu, and pneumonia COMBINED. Combined with other antibiotic resistant bacteria, this could rapidly become a serious problem.
We’re already spending more money on national health (including infectious diseases) that we were ten years ago, but it seems we aren’t keeping pace, particularly with antibiotic resistant bacteria like MRSA and CRKP.
Steps You Can Take
1) Hygiene is seriously underestimated. Hand washing, proper food preparation, and other sanitary measures are the best way to stop the spread (and thus, growth) of infectious diseases. Hospitals in particular have been shown to benefit from increased sanitation measures, and every patient should hold their doctors accountable.
2) Ask for confirmation of the source of infection before asking for or accepting antibiotics. Although bacteria make up a slight majority of infections, many common illnesses can also be caused by viruses (almost as common) or a fungus (more rare). Not only will antibiotics not treat these infections, but antibiotic resistance in any bacteria you may be carrying will be increased!
3) Avoid meat that’s been raised with antibiotics, and demand that these practices be stopped. New research has added to the evidence that giving healthy animals regular doses of antibiotics contributes to antibiotic resistance in humans.
What are other ways we can slow down antibiotic resistance?