What is resistance and how has it come about? The evolution of resistant strains is a natural evolutionary phenomenon that occurs when microorganisms replicate and resistant traits are exchanged or enhanced between them. However we are accelerating the emergence of drug resistant strains, such as MRSA, through the use and misuse of antimicrobial drugs such as antibiotics e.g. failure to complete antibiotic courses, the increased use of antibiotics in veterinary medicine and animals used in food production.
What are the potential impacts of resistance?
Many of the available treatment options for bacterial infections are becoming more and more ineffective. There are resistant strains of E.Coli and K. Pneumonia that can no longer be treated by the usual antibiotic and treatment is now reliant on an alternative antibiotic that is more expensive and unavailable in resource-constrained settings in developing countries.
A world with ineffective antibiotics could mean simple operations, childbirth and even simple cuts could become life threatening.
Antimicrobial resistance is a growing concern. The concern is so great the WHO set up the first antibiotic awareness week in November 2015 and this awareness week (http://www.who.int/mediacentre/events/2015/world-antibiotic-awareness-week/en/) looks set to continue as the problem continues to grow and intensify.
So What can we do to tackle resistance?
Here are some guidelines that we can all follow:
· Hand washing to prevent the spread of infection
· Avoiding close contact with sick people to prevent the spread of bacterial and viral infections such as influenza and preventing the transmission of STD’s
· Getting vaccinated and keeping vaccinations up to date
· Using antimicrobial drugs only when prescribed
· Completing the full course of treatment (even if you feel better)
· Never sharing antimicrobial drugs with others or using left over prescriptions – in fact never do this with any drugs
· Understanding Antibiotics do not work for viral infections
What does the future hold?
Most of antibiotics used in modern medicine today have been discovered in the soil. However, a recent discovery of a new antibiotic has potentially given medicine a new class of drugs.
A new antibiotic was recently discovered in the noses of humans by a German research team. This new antibiotic called “lugdunin” is in the early stage of development but initial tests reveal it could be used to successfully to treat superbug infections like MRSA (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2016/03/14/first-new-antibiotic-in-30-years-discovered-in-major-breakthroug/).
This new discovery could lead to more antibiotics being discovered, with the human body being the source.
Early intervention and close monitoring of injuries is seen as best practise in order to mitigate the risks posed by antibiotic resistance and to prevent acute injuries becoming chronic. The QBE Rehabilitation Team recognises this and provides their early intervention pre-claim rehabilitation services such as Return and Return+ which are available to all their EL policyholders (http://www.qbeeurope.com/rehabilitation/).