Did you know that the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that the antibiotic resistance crisis is becoming one of the greatest threats facing human health? I am not surprised as the public health experts say that the superbugs are the result of years of overusing and misusing antibiotics, either by dispensing them in too high doses or using them against minor infections or inappropriate conditions like the flu, which doesn’t respond to antibiotics.
Antibiotics are also overused in farming— an estimated 80% of antibiotics sold in the U.S. are used in livestock, not just to keep infections at bay, but also as a way to encourage animals like chickens, pigs and cattle to grow larger and produce more meat. The antibiotic use in food-producing animals kills or suppresses susceptible bacteria, allowing antibiotic-resistant bacteria to thrive then the resistant bacteria are transmitted to humans through the food supply and these bacteria can cause infections in humans that may lead to adverse health consequences.
“Antibiotic resistance is an inevitable consequence of antibiotic use, the more you use them the more resistance you will get.” Says renowned antibiotic resistance expert Professor Peter Collignon. With so many antibiotics circulating in people and in animals, bacteria mutate to find ever more clever ways of becoming resistant to the drugs. The only way to get ahead of antibiotic-resistant superbugs is to outsmart them.
Purchasing antibiotic-free meat and poultry from a supermarket or restaurant is one major contribution you can make toward making the food supply safer and keeping your family healthy. Unfortunately, labels on meat don’t always make it clear when it is from animals raised without antibiotics. Look for meat labeled “organic” or “no antibiotics.” The labels “natural” or “antibiotic-free” are not meaningful when it comes to determining whether antibiotics are prohibited.
Minimize unnecessary prescribing and overprescribing of antibiotics. This occurs when people expect doctors to prescribe antibiotics for a viral illness (antibiotics do not work against viruses) or when antibiotics are prescribed for conditions that do not require them.
Complete the entire course of any prescribed antibiotic so that it can be fully effective and not breed resistance.
Your body is able to fight off infections when your immune system is strong. When your immune system is compromised it leaves you venerable to serious infections because it’s not strong enough to combat any attacks. The best ways to strengthen your immunity is to take care of yourself by eating nutritious food, getting enough sleep and maintaining a regular fitness regime to keep you and your immune system in a great shape.
Washing your hands frequently – especially before and after you eat – can limit the transfer of bacteria that cause superbugs and also prevent the spread of infections. The idea is you want to wash any bacteria from your hands before you bring them into contact with your eyes, nose or mouth. You also want to avoid spreading bacteria you may be carrying. Washing your hands will help to reduce your chances of spreading bacteria directly to others, which you do through physical contact, or by touching inanimate objects, such as door handles, taps and hand rails.
You are more likely to contract a superbug while travelling because they are more prevalent in the food and water supplies of other countries. Be aware of what you are eating and drinking when travelling, and remember well cooked and hot food is always safer than uncooked food because high heat kills bacteria.