The Public Eye

Reports from the Bee's investigative team

April 7, 2011
Antimicrobial resistance is a growing health threat

Antibiotics and other medicines that fight bacterial, viral and fungal infections have saved a lot of lives since their introduction in the 1940s. But some bugs are becoming resistant to antimicrobial drugs making them increasingly ineffective. The threat is serious enough that international health officials made antimicrobial resistance the focus of the recent World Health Day.

According to the World Health Organization, some 440,000 cases of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis occur every year, killing at least 150,000 globally. Further, resistance to older generation antimalarial medicines in growing in countries battling the disease. And a high percentage of hospital-acquired infections are now caused by resistant bacteria, such as Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). (More than 12,000 Californians die from hospital-borne infections annually.)

The Centers for Disease Control warns that overuse and inappropriate use of antimicrobials contributes to germ resistance, leading to undue medical complications and deaths. Patients can protect themselves by:

* Talking with your doctor about the best treatment for you or your child's illness.
* Not demanding antibiotics or other medications when a doctor says they are not needed.
* Not taking medications prescribed for someone else.
* Taking medications as directed.
* Not skipping doses of prescribed medicines.
* Not saving medicines for a future illness.

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About The Public Eye

Welcome to The Bee's newest blog: Public Eye. In the coming months, you will see us breaking news here as well as following up on investigations we have published with tidbits, news breaks and behind-the-scenes descriptions of our news-gathering process. Know of a wrong we could right? Send our fraud squad your tips at: fraudsquad@sacbee.com.

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