The coronavirus pandemic, at the moment, is the biggest cause of concern associated with public health and everyday life around the globe. While the crisis is indeed affecting people in multiple ways and needs collaborative effort to be controlled as soon as possible, health experts have stated that many other health problems are getting neglected in the process.
In fact, one of the biggest threats to public safety in the future which may be much more difficult to control than the current pandemic is also not getting the attention it requires for action to be taken for it.
Antimicrobial or antibiotic resistance has been becoming a major problem in the treatment of some of the most commonly occurring infections around the world for the past few years.
Although the issue started with resistance to one or two antibiotics, which are medicines used for treating bacterial infections, it has been becoming worse and many health conditions can no longer be treated with most of the broad-spectrum antibiotics.
In cases where commonly prescribed antibiotics no longer work on the infection, stronger antibiotics are prescribed. However, some pathogens may now even be developing resistance to the strongest of the medicines used in treatment.
The more people use antibiotics, the higher is the chance that bacteria adapts and becomes resistant to them. Once the bacteria become resistant, they threaten the entire global population even if they do so in one region or country.
As seen in the coronavirus pandemic, pathogens such as viruses, fungi, and bacteria can spread very quickly due to their contagious nature. Therefore, antimicrobial-resistant pathogens are also likely to transmit from one person to another or one country to another in a short period of time.
At the moment, there are as many as eighteen pathogens that may be a threat in accordance with the U.S. Centre for Disease Control and Prevention’s ‘Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States report’.
In addition, the report also names five specific pathogens that are the biggest threats right now and require urgent action to be taken as soon as possible.
The number one on the list, which is spreading quickly in countries, is the carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter bacteria. The pathogen causes various infections ranging from Urinary tract infections to bloodstream infections, and pneumonia.
Multiple drug-resistant Candida Auris fungus is also a big cause of concern as it can cause deadly bloodstream infections which are often extremely difficult to treat.
Other drug-resistant pathogens which are an urgent threat in the list include carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), Clostridioides difficile (C. diff), and multiple drug-resistant Neisseria gonorrhoeae.
For reducing the risk of catching drug-resistant pathogens and infections, experts suggest frequent hand washing, maintaining hygiene, and distance from infected people.
However, this is not enough for the overall problem of antibiotic resistance. Avoiding antibiotics whenever possible is also fundamental.
According to research, one in three prescriptions of antibiotics is not needed. So, asking the health professional about whether taking the medicines is a requirement is recommended.
In the cases it is needed, take antibiotics as directed and do not discontinue in between the course without asking a doctor. Secondly, do not start courses without consultation as it can do more harm than good.