Diseases and Conditions , ,

GUEST BLOGGER: Why The United Nations General Assembly Declared Antibiotic Resistance a Global Health Threat

GUEST BLOGGER: John Rehm

On Sept. 21, the 193 member countries of the United Nation’s General Assembly (UNGA) unanimously agreed on a declaration that addresses the increasing threat of antibiotic-resistant bacteria across the globe.

In his opening remarks, UNGA President Peter Thomson stressed the importance of a global response because antibiotic resistance threatens not only people but also the environment, wildlife, access to sustainable and safe food, and agricultural production.

The U.N.’s report estimates that 700,000 people die each year from drug-resistant infections around the globe and hopes that by taking action now, it can prevent an uncontrollable health epidemic.

How does this relate to the United States?

According to the CDC, 2 million people become infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria each year in the United States — and 23,000 of those infections are the direct cause of death. An example is Clostridium Difficile or C.diff, which accounted for almost half a million infections and an estimated 15,000 deaths in 2015.

How can we prevent further infections?

One of the easiest ways is to have a conversation with your family doctor or family nurse practitioner on appropriate antibiotic use. In the United States, more than 150 million antibiotics were prescribed in 2015. According to the CDC, 30 percent of prescribed antibiotics are unnecessary.

Also, be mindful of how you interact with livestock. As much as 80 percent of all antibiotics is used on livestock and resistant bacteria can spread to people via:

Uncooked or improperly prepared animal food products

  • Direct contact with livestock infected with drug resistant bacteria
  • Waste runoff from livestock fecal matter or fertilizers that seep into a local water supply

By being aware of what antibiotic-resistant bacteria are and sources of exposure, we have the opportunity the join fight to prevent further infections. For more information on how antibiotic resistance occurs, check out Kevin Wu’s TED-Ed video here.