13 November 2018

Keep Antibiotics Working!

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Public Health England have reinstated their ‘Keep Antibiotics Working’ campaign, to alert the public to the risks of antibiotic resistance, urging them to always take their doctor, nurse or healthcare professional’s advice on antibiotics. New data shows that over three million surgeries and cancer treatments may become life threatening without antibiotics.

The threat of antibiotic resistance continues to grow. Bloodstream infections have increased and the report shows that antibiotic-resistant bloodstream infections rose by an estimated 35% between 2013 and 2017.

The ‘Keep Antibiotics Working’ campaign aims to educate the public on the risks of antibiotic resistance. The campaign also provides effective self-care advice to help individuals and their families feel better if they are not prescribed antibiotics.

Professor Paul Cosford, Medical Director, Public Health England said:

"Antibiotics are an essential part of modern medicine, keeping people safe from infection when they are at their most vulnerable. It’s concerning that, in the not too distant future, we may see more cancer patients, mothers who’ve had caesareans and patients who’ve had other surgery facing life-threatening situations if antibiotics fail to ward off infections.

We need to preserve antibiotics for when we really need them and we are calling on the public to join us in tackling antibiotic resistance by listening to your GP, pharmacist or nurse’s advice and only taking antibiotics when necessary. Taking antibiotics just in case may seem like a harmless act, but it can have grave consequences for you and your family’s health in future."

What can you do?

As individuals, we can each play our part in slowing the spread of antibiotic-resistant diseases.  To help prevent the spread you should;

  • Only use antibiotics that are prescribed by a healthcare professional such as your GP.
  • With the pressures of work, you may be tempted to demand antibiotics from your doctor to get over an illness quickly. Don’t. Coughs, earache and sore throats, will get better by themselves, and the overuse of antibiotics to treat such conditions means that the life-saving drugs may no longer work when they’re really needed. Your immune system can handle most common illnesses on its own, and most people don’t realise that antibiotics have no effect on viral infections.
  • You can prevent the spread of harmful infections by implementing good hygiene practices. Wash your hands thoroughly and regularly, practice safe sex, avoid contact with sick people if possible and ensure that your vaccinations are kept up to date.

If you look back at history, you will find many instances of pandemics that have devastated entire civilisations and claimed millions of lives. From the Bubonic Plague to Spanish Flu, diseases that are currently treated with antibiotics could return with devastating effect.

 Next time you are feeling under the weather take a step back and think if you really need antibiotics from your GP.