Thursday, August 7, 2008

Antiobiotic Resistance

I was first confronted with the reality of antibiotic resistance during the prenatal class my wife and I attended in Toronto. The nurse told us not to touch anything! Not the doorknobs, elevator buttons or railings as hospitals are a breeding ground for antibiotic resistant bacteria. Even in the small town of Invermere BC, there was a case of flesh eating disease last year and people were discussing how serious the problem of antibiotic resistance really was.

Now, as my wife is nearing the end of her maternity leave, we have to make decisions about putting our son in daycare, etc. and this reality has resurfaced.

According to Dr. Gladwin, M.D. and Dr. Trattler, M.D. (authors of Clinical Microbiology made ridiculously simple, Edition 4, 2006) the reasons stated for the development of antibiotic resistance were:

1. Widespread and inappropriate use of broad spectrum antibiotics, especially in daycare centers and intensive care units.

2. Use of antibiotics in animal and fish farming to prevent infections and increase growth (which is a desired side effect of antibiotic use. For more information on the use of antibiotics to promote the growth of animals in Canada, check out the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food's excellent website).

3. Excessive use of antimicrobial preparations such as soaps and cleaning solutions in non-health care facilities (An article on WebMD, states that antibacterial products account for a billion dollars in sales annually. Accordingly, the public may not be made aware of the risks).

4. Increased numbers of immunocompromised patients requiring prolonged courses of antibiotics.

5. Debilitated patients which survive longer.

6. International travel which promotes the movement of resistant bacteria.

7. Inability to afford expensive antibiotic therapy (poverty situation).

*Be wary when an ad states that a product will kill 99.9% of bacteria. The surviving 0.1% may end up being the entire population bacteria in a very short time! For practical ways to combat the progression of antibiotic resistance, bring some questions to your next Naturopathic appointment.

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