Antibiotics Less Effective on Bacterial Infections

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Most people have taken some form of antibiotic, but imagine if they stopped working.

Antibiotic resistance is a very important global concern," said Jane Finn, the Executive Director of the Michigan Antibiotic Resistance Reduction Coalition.

MARR is working with the centers for disease control on 'Get Smart' week, informing people that forms of bacteria are starting to adapt and withstand the antibiotics we use.

"Occasionally, we do have bacterial infections that we are not able to treat anymore," said Finn.

A big reason for resistance is a patient's overuse of antibiotics. Finn says, rather than take antibiotics right away, make sure to have a lab culture done first.

"It's important whenever testing can be done that the lab test is done that a culture be done," said Finn. "If there is a bacterial infection, we can target the antibiotic to that specific infection."

At Sparrow Hospital, Dr. Ron Horowitz does just that. In addition to overuse, he says not finishing the antibiotics can be just as harmful.

"There are times when people actually need antibiotics and they don't take the full dose," said Horowitz, Director of the Department of Labs at Sparrow. "What that does is you've killed most of the bad bacteria that are affecting you."

That leaves some bacteria left over that becomes a "super strain" like MRSA. Adding to that, Dr. Horowitz says some antibiotics have already stopped working completely.

"One that comes to mind immediately is a drug called tetracycline," said Horowitz. "It was very effective over a broad range of bacteria, but currently, they stopped making it."

He also says if we don't change our antibiotic use, more could become useless in the future. To prevent the use of antibiotics, Dr. Horowitz says it is important for people to wash their hands and not to request antibiotics for viruses, like colds and the flu.

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