A new report from PHE out today reveals that 4 in 10 patients with an E. coli bloodstream infection in England cannot be treated with the most commonly used antibiotic in hospital with it being estimated that at least 5,000 deaths are caused every year in England because antibiotics no longer work for some infections.
The 'Keep Antibiotics Working’ campaign warns that taking antibiotics when not needed puts people at risk of a more severe or longer infection.
As the Chief Medical Officer and experts around the world warn of a “post-antibiotic apocalypse” and “the end of modern medicine”, Public Health England launches a major new campaign in the West Midlands region to help ‘Keep Antibiotics Working’. The campaign warns people that taking antibiotics when they are not needed puts them at risk of a more severe or longer infection, and urges people to take their doctor’s advice on antibiotics.
Public Health England’s ESPAUR report, published today, reveals that as antibiotic resistance grows, the options for treatment decrease. Worryingly, 4 in 10 patients with an E. coli bloodstream infection in England cannot be treated with the most commonly used antibiotic in hospitals.
Antibiotics are essential to treat serious bacterial infections, such as meningitis, pneumonia and sepsis, but they are frequently being used to treat illnesses, such as coughs, earache and sore throats that can get better by themselves. Taking antibiotics encourages harmful bacteria that live inside you to become resistant. That means that antibiotics may not work when you really need them. It is estimated that at least 5,000 deaths are caused every year in England because antibiotics no longer work for some infections and this figure is set to rise with experts predicting that in just over 30 years antibiotic resistance will kill more people than cancer and diabetes combined.
The ‘Keep Antibiotics Working’ campaign urges people in the West Midlands region to always trust their doctor, nurse or pharmacist’s advice as to when they need antibiotics and if they are prescribed, take antibiotics as directed and never save them for later use or share them with others. The campaign also provides effective self-care advice to help individuals and their families feel better if they are not prescribed antibiotics.
Dr Musarrat Afza, PHE West Midlands health protection consultant, said: “Antibiotics are essential to treat serious bacterial infections, such as meningitis, pneumonia, but they are frequently used inappropriately for illnesses on which they have no effect – such as colds and flu, which are caused by viruses. Many viral infections are ‘self-limiting’, which means they will resolve by themselves, and the person with the illness can just treat symptoms of aching, soreness, headaches and slightly raised temperature with over-the-counter remedies. For a more serious viral illness, an anti-viral medicine may be given – but not antibiotics.
“Taking antibiotics, when you don’t need them means they could be less effective in fighting the next bacterial infection you get. Over-use of antibiotics gives rise to more and more resistant strains of bacterial infections, and this may eventually result in a world where our antibiotics simply can’t cure people anymore. So, to ‘Keep Antibiotics Working’ for you and your family, always take your doctor’s advice.”