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What is Antibiotic Resistance?

Updated: Apr 17, 2022

Antibiotic Resistance happens when bacteria and fungi develop the ability to defeat medication. That means the germs are not killed and they control to grow in the human body.

This is one of the world’s most urgent public health problems, because it has the potential to affect people at any stage of life, including health care workers and agriculture industries. If antibiotics lose their effectiveness, we lose the ability to treat and control illnesses. Without urgent action, we are heading towards an era where antibiotics will not work, and even minor injuries and illnesses can kill.

Although antibiotics save lives, their repeated use can contribute to the development of resistant germs. This occurs mainly because the presence of antibiotics causes bacteria and fungi to adapt. When antibiotics enter the body, they kill some germs that cause infections, but they also kill helpful germs that fight infections. In doing so, the *bad* antibiotic resistant germs survive and rapidly multiply. These germs have resistance traits in their DNA that can spread to other germs.

When antibiotics do not work anymore, more expensive treatment must be used and a longer time in the hospital is required. This leads to higher health care costs and economic burden on families and society. It is also putting modern health advancements at risk. Chemotherapy and surgeries become harder if there are not effective antibiotics to treat and prevent infections.

Certain antibiotic resistance laboratory networks support lab testing in health care, the community, and the environment (such as water and soil). This work improves patient care, enhances public health, and informs solutions against resistance threats. It tests for an infection before the bacteria develops and notifies the individual so they can be vigilant in monitoring symptoms and can avoid interaction with healthy individuals.

Although the US food supply is one of the safest in the world, CDC estimates that 48 million people get ill from foodborne illnesses every year. Most of the time, antibiotics aren’t necessary in treating foodborne illnesses, but sometimes poultry producers will put antibiotics in their livestock to treat and control bacterial illnesses (in the animal). This increases the chance of antibiotic resistant germs in the animal, but it prevents illnesses for you. When you’re at the store in the meat and poultry aisle, and you see a label that says “No Antibiotics Ever [NAE]” or “Raised without Antibiotics” that means the animal was never injected with antibiotics. If it is accompanied by a seal that says, “USDA Process Verified,” it means USDA inspectors verified this process. However, just because these animals weren’t treated with antibiotics doesn’t mean that they don’t have antibiotic resistant bacteria. All living creatures carry bacteria in their gut, and some of these can be resistant, even if they never received antibiotics. These germs can then spread in between animals and into food products.

There are many ways you can protect yourself from antibiotic resistance. One way is by using antibiotics appropriately and asking your healthcare provider if it is necessary. If they are used inappropriately, they can cause side effects and contribute to antibiotic resistance. You can also keep your animals safe by asking their veterinarian about the correct dosage of antibiotics when they get sick, as well as using them exactly as prescribed.


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