Do you find bugs in your yard and garden that are eating your plants, roots, grass and eliminating flowers? Have you tried pesticides only to find the bugs come back stronger by becoming pesticide resistant? Our bodies are the same as plant life in the garden. The ready availability and use of antibiotics to treat illnesses has resulted in emerging infectious diseases that are resistant to known treatment modalities.
News is Full of Superbug Warning
There are more and more articles in the community papers, TV news shows and health care literature about the challenges to cure health conditions that are caused by medication resistant organisms. The most recent story warned that in the US this new “nightmare superbug” is a strain of e-coli. They used the words “alarming development and terrifying”. Other frequently discussed antibiotic resistant infections have been for tuberculosis, gonorrhea, and skin infections. Some parts of the world are trying to get a handle on resistant strains of malaria.
Corrections Health Responses
In recent years, corrections health programs have developed guidelines and procedures for skin infections and tuberculosis. They vary with the program and include prevention, identification, treatment and follow up care. The level of isolation or protection and the use of an antibiotic regime is set by the medical directors and pharmacists. Custody and health staff have become accustomed to being taught about preventing contagious disease and are skilled in using standard precautions, wearing gloves, respecting wounds that are bandaged and reporting concerns to medical. Having sanitizing gel and gloves available around the facilities is the norm now instead of the exception.
Precautions to Consider
The picture of superbugs really encompasses a world view as changes in how we live and the treatments we receive for illness has contributed to more organisms being resistant to current therapies. We normally focus on our facilities, however, some of the recommendations to help slow down the emerging resistant diseases encourages us to take a larger world view of public health. The United Kingdom recently published a multi-nation review of how to tackle the problem of drug resistant organisms infections. The report outlines steps that should be taken by each of us individually and as leaders in health care at our facility to curb the tide of emerging “superbugs”.
- Raise awareness of the threat of inappropriate antibiotic use.
- Improved hygiene to safeguard against infections.
- Less unnecessary microbial use in agriculture, aided by improved transparency by retailers and food producers.
- Better monitoring of drug resistance.
- Development of both diagnostics to cut unnecessary antibiotic use and improved vaccines and alternatives.
Another recent article about superbugs described a woman in Pennsylvania diagnosed with drug resistant e-coli and noted the specialized diagnostic and therapeutic resources necessary to treat her. The article also described how new the information about emerging drug resistant disease is and the lack of coordinated and widely disseminated research. So not only do we all need to keep abreast of the infectious disease that are arriving in our facilities, but bring awareness of the need for specialized education and training in infectious disease prevention.
We have heard for years about the dangers of antibiotic resistant diseases and have developed procedures and protocols in monitoring and treatment. The most frequently stated practice change is to have antibiotic stewardship programs to curb the inappropriate use of antibiotics. Many of our patients coming into custody have a history of frequent antibiotic use and want us to give them antibiotics for many of their ailments. We need to provide patients with education about appropriate antibiotic use; we also need to ensure staff are knowledgeable and that the practice guidelines are based upon the most current evidence. To address resistance in gardening we now treat superbugs with beneficial insects like green lacewings, ladybugs and praying mantis so lets do the same in health care with appropriate antibiotic use and stewardship. That way we may affect the predictions that millions of people may become ill from “superbug infections” by year 2050.
What are you doing to help curb antibiotic use in your place of work? Do you have any special patient teaching tips or resources you would like to share with us? If you do please put your sharing in the comment sections below. We all can learn from each other.
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