President Joe Biden declared “Antibiotic Awareness Week” in the US starting Thursday, an occasion to “celebrate the wonders of science and medicine”, as well as the dangers of abuse of such drugs. To raise awareness – which can lead to further spread of the disease.

- Advertisement -

Antibiotics are important for the treatment of bacterial infections causing pneumonia, meningitis and sepsis. They also help protect against infection during chemotherapy, caesarean sections, and other common surgeries. health officials say, Since the 1940s, antibiotics have greatly reduced illness and death from infectious diseases, according to US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

advertisement

But they don’t work on viruses, like most cases of colds, flu and chest colds — such as bronchitis, the CDC says. And they can also cause side effects and lead to antibiotic resistance, which occurs when microbes develop defense strategies against such drugs and make the drugs less effective.

- Advertisement -

Antibiotics are depicted in a file image dated November 20, 2015. (Photo by MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images)

In Biden’s proclamation, which declares Antibiotic Awareness Week from November 18 to November 24, calls for using antibiotics as intended and notes the dangers of such infectious microbes becoming resistant to drugs.

“In recent decades, misuse of antibiotics has contributed to infectious microbes becoming resistant to antibiotics,” the White House said in a statement. “Each year, more than 3 million people in the United States are infected — and about 50,000 die — by an antibiotic-resistant germ or an infection that can occur after taking antibiotics.”

The announcement comes during the World Health Organization’s annual world antimicrobial awareness week, which aims to encourage best practices among patients and doctors and to avoid further emergence and spread of drug-resistant infections.

How does antibiotic resistance occur?

Microorganisms are small living organisms, such as bacteria. Most germs are harmless and can even be helpful to humans, but some can cause infection and disease. The drugs used to treat these infections are called antimicrobials, CDC explains,

The most commonly known antimicrobials are antibiotics, which kill bacteria or stop them from growing.

Resistance to antibiotics and similar antimicrobials occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites no longer respond to drugs, making common infections difficult to treat and increasing the risk of disease transmission.

The CDC notes how antibiotics also kill helpful germs that protect humans. Without helpful germs, resistant germs reap an even greater advantage.

related: Fish slime may be new source of antibiotics, according to study

Why is antibiotic resistance increasing?

Antibiotic resistance is a multi-decade crisis affecting the healthcare community worldwide. Both the CDC and WHO note that resistance to antibiotics is increasing as a result of overuse and abuse of drugs in humans, livestock, and agriculture, as well as poor access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene.

To prevent overuse of antibiotics, a doctor must determine whether a viral or bacterial infection is present, which can be difficult because both infections often present with similar symptoms.

“For example, COVID-19 is caused by a virus, not bacteria, so antibiotics should not be used to treat COVID infection. Patients with poor diagnosis and not following prescribed practices and their treatment also contribute.” WHO states on its website.

Health officials in the UK warned this week that antibiotic-resistant infections, often described as a “hidden epidemic”, should be the next big concern and require continued action. According to the UK’s Health Protection Agency, one in five people with a bloodstream infection in the UK in 2020 had an antibiotic-resistant one.

“Antimicrobial resistance has been described as a hidden pandemic and it is important that we do not outrun COVID-19 and enter another crisis,” said UKHSA’s Chief Medical Adviser Dr. Susan Hopkins. said in a statement on Wednesday,

The Biden administration said it is working to slow the spread of antibiotic-resistant infections and track antibiotic use nationwide through systems such as the CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network.

The White House said, “We know the types of interventions that serve to preserve the integrity of antibiotics and strengthen antibiotic management across industries, and we are implementing those interventions and analyzing the data.” and providing resources to address inequalities in antibiotic prescribing and use.”

Officials said the US is also investigating how disparities in health care access and quality of care drive these infections.

“Every American has an important role to play in this effort. Even small changes in the way we use antibiotics can help guard against the threat of antibiotic resistance,” White Hosu said. “Using the right antibiotic for the proper duration at the prescribed time and the right dose can help improve how antibiotics are used to prevent and control infections for all of us.”

related: CDC says US overdose deaths top 100,000 for first time in a year

This story was reported from Cincinnati.