Antibiotic resistance is the ability of germs to resist the antibiotics that doctors commonly prescribes for an infection. In the past several years, antibiotic resistant has become more prevalent and parents are becoming increasingly concerned that their child may get such an infection. Should you be concerned? How common are these bugs and how much of a threat are they? What can you do to avoid getting them? Most of these questions can be answered if you are familiar with the nature and cause of this problem.
What are the antibiotic resistant bugs?
They are all kinds of bacteria such as the ones that cause skin (staph) and ear infections (pneumococcus), viruses such as influenza, and molds such as Candida which usually only occur in children that have immune deficiency.
How do bugs become antibiotic resistant?
Germs become antibiotic resistant either randomly or because they are exposed to antibiotics too frequently due to misuse of antibiotics by doctors or use of antibiotic in farming and animal feed. Animals and fowl are given antibiotics as a feed additives because it makes them grow bigger. Sometimes antibiotic resistant germs are spread from animals to humans if we eat antibiotic-fed meat or poultry.
What is MRSA?
MRSA is a bacterial germ called staph that commonly causes skin infections such as boils and abscesses. This staph bacterium has become resistant to certain antibiotics of the methicillin family (MRSA is short for methicillin resistant staph). It has become the most common germ for skin infections. Fortunately, most boils resolve when they are drained and we still have antibiotics that work well for MRSA skin infections. In fact, one study has shown that draining boils is as effective as getting antibiotics. However, some MRSA germs that are acquired in hospitals (as opposed to the ones we get at home) are nastier and harder to treat. These infections occur when a person is hospitalized.
What can you do to prevent these antibiotic germs?
In short, antibiotic resistant bugs are a threat, but they are often manageable. We also can significantly decrease our children's risk of getting such bugs by vaccinating them, insisting to our doctors to use antibiotics only when necessary, and eating antibiotic-free foods.