The Director of The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Tom Frieden, told the National Press Club yesterday that next pandemic to face mankind could very likely be antibiotic resistance. When people take antibiotics without being prescribed to do so or they take them for longer or shorter amounts of time than originally prescribed, the harmful bacteria has more of an opportunity to develop and modify itself. When bacteria mutates enough, it eventually becomes a brand new disease strain completely different than the one originally being treated.
The CDC hopes to fight this new factor in modern medicine by isolating antibiotic resistant bacterias to hospital environments and taking on stricter prevention methods to help keep illegally obtained antibiotics out of patients’ hands. Even without a fraction of the population using antibiotics without heeding the proper instructions, bacteria is always evolving and scientists have to manufacture better and more advanced cures to stay a step ahead of disease. People are usually better off with the antibiotics than without as it gives the natural immune system a better chance at developing its own antibodies.
Doctors stress that while this new concern brought to light by the CDC is a scary one, it’s not reason enough to stop taking antibiotics altogether but rather it’s reason not to rely on antibiotics for every ailment or for viral infections such as colds and the flu, as antibiotics only work on bacterial infections. Similarly, swearing off antibiotics completely could cause more harm than good, like the anti-vaccination movement, which has caused more deadly disease outbreaks than prevention. Thanks to anti-vaxxers whooping cough has become deadly again for the first time in decades and the movement has also ignited the revival of long extinguished infectious diseases such as measles and more vicious diseases like polio.
To help protect yourself and loved ones from antibiotic resistance, the CDC recommends only taking antibiotics as prescribed, discarding leftover medication immediately, not using antibiotics as a first line of defense but rather as a last resort and asking your healthcare provider how you can feel better faster. Preventative steps to avoid getting infected such as eating right, exercise and routine hygienic habits are highly recommended.