Press Release, Opinion

''Overused Antibiotics Are Becoming Ineffective''

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"As a nation, we need to exercise greater care with our use of antibiotics, in both humans and animals, so that these medications remain effective in treating serious bacterial infections.

Twenty-six years ago, as a pediatric intern, I marveled at the power of a new class of antibiotics, the cephalosporins, in treating children with life-threatening infections. 

I recall the warning of my attending physician, who foresaw the day when bacteria would develop resistance to these new drugs. At the time, I had hoped she was wrong. She wasn't. During my residency, my training in infectious diseases, and my long practice in this community, I have watched the steady increase in resistance to this class, and to most classes, of antibiotics.

I have had to treat a child with mastoiditis, a complication of an ear infection, with four weeks of intravenous antibiotics because oral antibiotics were inadequate for the highly resistant bacteria causing the illness.

Many strains of Staphylococcus aureus, a common skin bacterium, are now resistant to multiple drugs. When treating a serious infection, such as a bone infection or pneumonia, due to this bacterium we now must start with antibiotics previously reserved for hospital-­acquired infections.

While treating the infections has become more difficult, most illness-causing bacteria are still sensitive to some antibiotics. However, with continued widespread antibiotic use in humans, and overuse in animals, there will inevitably be further development of resistance. I dread the day when my colleagues and I have no effective antibiotics to treat a seriously ill child."