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Outbreak in Pakistan among 71 percent of newborn babies attributed to antibiotic-resistant bacteria


(NaturalNews) Pakistani health officials say that 71 percent of infections among newborns throughout the country are the result of antibiotic resistance, while in neighboring India, health officials estimate that 58,000 neonatal deaths due to sepsis are attributable to infections that are resistant to antibiotics.

As reported by The News International, health experts also noted they have shared their findings at a recent press briefing titled "Antibiotic resistance -- act today for safer tomorrow."

The problem is that antibiotics are among the most commonly prescribed drugs in all of medicine, so much so, in fact, that they are actually being overprescribed in too many cases, which has been the primary factor in pathogens developing resistance.

In fact, "up to 50% of the time, antibiotics are not optimally prescribed, often done so when not needed, or given in incorrect dosage or duration," said Dr. Ejaz Khan, the infectious diseases consultant at Shifa International Hospital and former president of the Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases Society of Pakistan.

"Antibiotic resistance is the ability of bacteria to resist the effects of an antibiotic," he said, as reported by The News. "It occurs when bacteria change in a way that reduces the effectiveness of drugs, chemicals, or other agents designed to cure or prevent infections.

"The resistant bacteria then survive and continue to multiply, causing more harm, and spreading to other persons as well," he added.

Overuse for the wrong illnesses

In discussing ways to reverse the trend of antibiotic resistance, Ejaz noted that it is accelerated by the misuse and overuse of antibiotics by healthcare providers, as well as poor infection control methods and preventative action. He says physicians, healthcare workers, pharmacists and lawmakers should all help spread the word about more appropriate use of antibiotics.

As one example, sometimes antibiotics are prescribed for viral infections, over which they have no effect; other times primary care providers prescribe them because an overly cautious patient or parent insists on it.

In discussing the consequences of overuse, Dr. Mohammad Usman, an associate consultant microbiologist at Shifa International Hospital, told The News that some resistant strains can cause severe illness, and even death. Patients with these kinds of serious, resistance-caused infections often require much more recovery time, increased medical expenses and, if not treated aggressively enough, could die.

"We have to ensure cautious use of antibiotics as the use of antibiotics is the single most important factor leading to antibiotic resistance around the world. An antibiotic is a type of drug that kills or stops the growth of bacteria only. Antibiotics do not have any effect on viruses," he said.

Thousands die annually

A consultant microbiologist at the National Agriculture Research Center, Dr. Khalid Naeem Khawaja, said that antibiotics are also commonly used in food production. Most commonly they are given to slaughter animals prophylactically as a way to prevent and control disease, as well as promote the animal growth.

Dr. Shafqat Ali Hamdani, a pharmacist and consultant at Shifa Pharmacy and Laboratories, highlighted a case study which took place in the United States and found that 2 million people get serious bacterial infections every year that are resistant to one or more antibiotics that were designed to treat their specific infection. He added that as many as 23,000 people die annually from these antibiotic-resistant infections, and that as more people become resistant, that toll will increase.

He also noted that a review of 2,184 patients who had been hospitalized with pneumococcal pneumonia in 11 Asian countries between 2008 and 2009 found that, while high resistance to penicillin was rare, resistance to other antibiotics was not. Resistance to erythromycin, for instance, was very prevalent (72.7 percent); multi-drug resistance (MDR) was prevalent in 59.3 percent of S. pneumonia isolates.

"Public should only use antibiotics when prescribed by a certified health professional and should always take the full prescription; never using left-over antibiotics; and never sharing antibiotics with others," health experts concluded, according to The News.





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