According to the World Health Organization antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest current threats to global health. Infectious disease researcher Dr. Ravina Kullar joins The Doctors to discuss “nightmare bacteria.”
Nightmare bacteria is referring to Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae, bacteria that are resistant to a class of antibiotics. These bacteria typically cause infections such as pneumonia, blood stream infections, and urinary tract infections. There are very few antibiotics that we currently have in place to work against these bacteria. These resistant genes can jump to other bacteria and the risk of transmission can be quite high.
The primary reason why we have so much resistant bacteria is the inappropriate overuse of antibiotics. Dr. Kullar says antibiotics are the only drugs where every time we use them, they become less and less effective. She says that bacteria only take minutes to learn how to multiply and mutate to work against antibiotics. “What I see coming, is we’re going to come to a time where antibiotics won’t be able to cure simple infections.”
What can we do to stop this? Dr. Kullar tells viewers to stop buying meat raised with antibiotics. She says almost 80% of antibiotics in the U.S. are used by animals primarily for growth.
Dermatologist Dr. Sonia Batra shares a statistic that last year 2 million infections were caused by bacteria with resistant genes and 23,000 people died in the U.S. From the global perspective, Dr. Kullar says over 700,000 people died per year worldwide, and the number is projected to exceed 10 million people per year worldwide by the year 2050.
OB/GYN Dr. Nita Landry reminds viewers that when physicians withhold antibiotic treatment it’s not because they don’t want you to get better. It’s because antibiotics can’t help your virus. They will only harm you because if you need an antibiotic in the future, it may not be effective for you.
Dr. Kullar urges healthcare providers to “think again” every time they go to prescribe an antibiotic.