Rapid lab tests can help reduce antibiotic resistance

November 30, 2016

by Rob Jenison

In the latter half of the 20th century, antibiotics revolutionized the world of medicine. Instead of bacterial infections running their course, which often led to death, antibiotics now stop many of them in their tracks, saving millions of lives. But the subsequent emergence of antibiotic resistance and “superbugs” has presented a new challenge for medicine today.

Each year, about 2 million Americans are infected with superbugs, and 23,000 die from these infections. A British review estimated that superbugs could kill around 10 million people worldwide by 2050.

While there are natural causes for bacteria to gain resistance to certain antibiotics, including genetic mutations and the transfer of drug-resistant genes between bacteria, overuse of antibiotics has perhaps had the most significant impact. This has been driven by the all-too-common practice of prescribing an antibiotic when it isn’t likely to help, such as with a simple case of the flu or an upper respiratory infection caused by a virus. Nearly 50 million unnecessary prescriptions for antibiotics are written each year in the US alone.

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Reference: statnews.com