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5 things you NEED to know about drug-resistant superbugs and antimicrobial resistance

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Superbugs are expected to kill 10 million by 2050.

The United Nations General Assembly voted to take "a broad coordinated approach" to antimicrobial resistance, which is growing at such an alarming rate, millions are expected to die by 2050.

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Catholic Online (
9/25/2016 (3 years ago)

Published in Health

Keywords: Drug-resistance, antimicrobial, superbugs, health, safety

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "This is only the fourth time a health issue has been taken up by the U.N. general Assembly (the others were HIV noncommunicative diseases and ebola)," the UN stated.

The overuse and misuse of antibiotics such as penicillin have led to bacteria that has evolved at such an alarming rate, scientists are unable to keep up.

Stefano Bertuzzi, the CEO of the American Society for Microbiology, told NCB: "If antibiotics were telephones, we would still be calling each other using clunky rotary dials and copper lines."

"Superbugs" are now commonplace, resulting in the deaths of roughly 23,000 people each year, according to the CDC.

Dr. Margaret Chan, the director-general of the UN's World Health Organization, stated: "Antimicrobial resistance poses a fundamental threat to human health, development and security. We are running out of time."

So what can we do about it?

The UN released plans to help the world battle antibiotic abuse, bacterial infections and better tests.

Susan Sharp, the President of the American Society for Microbiology, explained tests that provide immediate results can help doctors see whether a patient has a bacterial infection or a virus.

This test can help both doctors and patients feel confident in whether antibiotics need to be used.

The tests and availability to these tests around the world will be an enormous help but the most important tool is education.

If people are ignorant of the dangers, how can they protect themselves?

Here are five need-to-know facts concerning antibiotics and antimicrobial resistant superbugs:

1. What are superbugs?

Superbugs are drug-resistant bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites. Drugs do not kill them and thousands die each year because of it.

2. Who is at risk?

People with compromised immune systems, such as babies, the elderly and those on immunosuppressant drugs, are the most at risk - but experts claim the entire world will be at risk if nothing is done to stop the spread of superbugs.

3. Where did the superbugs come from?

Some were born from people who abused antibiotics, such as not taking the entire prescribed dosage or taking antibiotics when their body did not need them.

Some people get sick and, on a genetic level, allow the bugs to rapidly evolve.

Some countries prescribe antibiotics when they are not necessary, some receive antibiotics from the meat they purchase because farmers use antibiotics to control sickness among their herds.

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4. How can we fight it?

Experts believe newer, stronger antibiotics need to be created to battle the ever-evolving bugs but a more immediate method is very simple: We need to wash our hands more often.

The CDC reported simple hand-washing can prevent 30 percent of diarrhea-related sicknesses and 20 percent of respiratory infections, both of which require the use of antibiotics to treat.

The CDC released simple instructions on how to effectively wash your hands and when you should.

5. What will happen if we can't fight it?

Superbugs kill thousands every year and Dr. Vicky Enne, a clinical microbiologist at University College London told CNN if nothing is done to stop the superbugs, "Doctors won't be able to carry out life-saving procedures due to the risk of infection."

Dr. Margaret Chan, the WHO Secretary-General, explained, "Antimicrobial resistance poses a fundamental threat to human health, development, and security."

Enne warned, "Antibiotics underpin the whole of modern medicine. It will be a considerable feat to solve the problem."

The best thing to do is wash your hands properly, use antibiotics responsibly and spread awareness to others.

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