Overuse of Antibiotics
Posted on December 31, 2005 Comments (6)
Stomach Bug Mutates Into Medical Mystery – Antibiotics, Heartburn Drugs Suspected
“It’s a new phenomenon. It’s just emerging,” said L. Clifford McDonald of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. “We’re very concerned. We know it’s happening, but we’re really not sure why it’s happening or where this is going.”
It may, however, be the latest example of a common, relatively benign bug that has mutated because of the overuse of antibiotics.
Unfortunately the continued overuse of antibiotics is increasing the danger of deadly antibiotic resistant bacteria. This problem is a significant challenge not only due to the scope of the consequences (which are huge) but due to the nature of the problem. Many thousands, hundreds of thousands maybe even millions of poor use of antibiotics incrementally put everyone at risks. But each of those individual steps of poor use of antibiotics is by itself not likely to be deadly.
Due to the way we tend to think about problems (searching for one simple cause or thing to blame and fixing that one thing), the cause of antibiotic resistance provides an opportunity for the millions of bad actions to go unchecked. Only after catastrophic consequences are recognized, and put in the proper context, are we likely to give this issue the attention it deserves. Thankfully CDC and others are trying to get us to take this issues seriously now. However, the risks are huge and each person (doctors, patients, consumers [use of antibiotics on animals used as food is a huge part of the problem], government regulators…) taking small actions that make the situation worse often don’t see any need to take more responsibility.