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Here's how poor antibiotic resistance has come about in the last 20 years

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Researchers are learning more about the problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Getty Images
  • Antibiotic resistance has doubled in the last 20 years.
  • In addition, a new study found that one patient developed resistance to the last antibiotic within a few weeks.
  • Health experts say antibiotic prescriptions should only be given when absolutely necessary to avoid growing resistance.

Over the past decade, antibiotic resistance has emerged as one of the largest threats to public health.

antibiotics have been used to prevent and treat bacterial infections since the 1940s when doctors first discovered that powerful drugs could save people's lives.

But in recent decades, there has been overuse and misuse infectious bacteria become resistant to these common remedies. Researchers today have more details about how serious antibiotic resistance has become and have found evidence that we have reached a daunting new step.

New research published in the journal Antimicrobials and Chemotherapy revealed today that it is resistant to one of the last resorting drugs used to treat extremely drug-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa it can develop much faster than we originally thought.

Patient infected Pseudomonas aeruginosa (P. aeruginosa) – a bacterium that can cause a range of infections, including urinary tract infections, bone and joint infections and respiratory infections – has developed antibiotic resistance with ceftolozan-tazobactam in just 22 days.

This finding follows another European study, which found that antibiotic resistance commonly used to treat a range of stomach infections has nearly doubled in 20 years

In fact, resistance to commonly used antibiotics – such as clarithromycin – is increasing by one percent each year, according to the findings, which researchers presented on Monday at UEG Week Barcelona 2019.

If used properly, antibiotics can be very beneficial and even save lives. But many healthcare professionals are concerned that if we continue to overuse and abuse them, our ability to treat infections will be lost.

"There is concern that continued antibiotic resistance could lead us to a" post-antibiotic world "where infections can no longer be treated. This problem is similar to the global threat to public health at the level posed by climate change, ”Stanley Deresinski, Stanford Health Care, MD, told Healthline.

To measure how resistant the population is to antibiotics and to determine what treatments can be used in the future, researchers conducted surveys on how effectively people responded to various antibiotics in 1998, 2008 and most recently in 2018.

For the 2018 survey, researchers studied 1,232 patients from 18 countries in Europe who contracted a Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) an infection, a harmful bacterium associated with gastric ulcers, lymphoma and cancer of the stomach.

Researchers found that resistance to antimicrobial clarithromycin – commonly used in treatment H. pylori – increased from 9.9 percent in 1998 to 21.6 percent in 2018.

In addition, resistance to other potent antibiotics has increased significantly. The levofloxacin resistance rate increased to 17 percent and to metronidazole to 42 percent.

Finally, the researchers noted that resistance to amoxicillin, tetracycline and rifampicin compounds also increased.

According to the study, resistance rates were highest in southern Italy (37 percent), Croatia (35 percent) and Greece (30 percent).

Meanwhile, resilience rates in the United States have also increased, according to health experts.

"To see some countries with more than 1/3 of all H. pylori clarithromycin resistant infections (one of the combinations of antibiotics used to treat H. pylori) it's shocking. Things have moved this way in the United States, with estimates of clarithromycin resistance at 19 percent, ”says Dr. Arun Swaminath, director of the inflammatory bowel disease program at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York.

Unless the United States becomes more cautious about using antibiotics, what's happening in southern Italy and Croatia could soon be our future, Swaminath said.

The more we use antibiotics, the higher the prevalence of antimicrobial resistance, explains Dr. Richard Martinello, an infectious disease expert at Yale Medicine.

"The use of antibiotics forces the evolution of resistant bacteria, and the growth of these resistant bacteria benefits when antibiotics are present," Martinello says.

Basically, the bacteria mutate into a version that has developed resistance, allowing them to survive and reproduce in the presence of antibiotics.

And as germs become more resistant to antibiotics, doctors are finding more patients with infections that can't be treated with antibiotics, Martinello said, adding that this can often lead to death or other potentially permanent health complications.

According to health experts, we need to slow down the use of antibiotics and only use them when needed.

"Doctors who prescribe antibiotics must be discretionary, and prescribe antibiotics only when they can help patients. Up to 50 percent of prescriptions for antibiotics are estimated to be for medical conditions, such as colds, that will not help antibiotics, ”Martinello said.

In addition, patients must also recognize the limitations of antibiotics.

"Patients are expected to have antibiotics as a cure for colds, sore throats, URIs, diarrhea to name but a few," says Dr. Theodore Strange, associate professor of medicine at Staten Island University Hospital.

Patients should use them only as prescribed and should return any unused antibiotic to their pharmacy.

"Antibiotics are only needed if they are indicated for a specific bacterial disease and should be of the right kind, at the right dose, [for] appropriate time – said Strange. "They are not 'medicine for everyone'."

Antibiotic resistance has emerged as one of the biggest threats to public health in recent years. Now, new research shows how big the threat is.

New research has shown that resistance to commonly used antibiotics has almost doubled in 20 years. Another found that antibiotic resistance was developing faster than ever, with one patient becoming resistant in just 22 days.

Health experts agree that people need to use antibiotics only when needed to alleviate problems.

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