What Do We Do If The Drugs We’re Counting On Don’t Work?

Drug-resistant super germsSuper Germs – You can pick them up at the office, at the gym and even in your home.  These germs have developed a resistance to more and more medicines.

Swine flu, when it appeared, was resistant to a group of drugs often used to fight flu in the past. This drug resistance occurs when a virus mutates in such a way that makes drugs ineffective.  The primary cause of drug-resistant bacteria is our overuse and misuse of antibiotics, but mutations can also crop up spontaneously even when drugs aren’t over prescribed.

It’s frightening to think that the drugs we’re depending on are ineffective against these “bugs”.  There are even germs today that are resistant to all antibiotics. As more and more bugs, including some really nasty bacteria become resistant to our best drugs, concerns are rising. 

Acne and some STDs aren’t clearing up the way they used to.  Methicillin-resistant bacteria staphylococcus aureous (MRSA), bacteria that are resistant to methicillin, a common antibiotic, now results in more deaths in U.S. hospitals than HIV, AIDS, and tuberculosis combined. Scarier still, the germ is becoming increasingly common outside of hospitals.

Some of the most deadly and prevalent Super Germs are:  Various strains of flu, Drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB), Clostridium difficile (C. diff.), Drug-resistant gram-negative bacteria, and Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureous.

C. diff, one of the most aggressive killers of hospitalized patients, is increasingly affecting people outside the hospital.  It sickens about a half-million people in the United States every year, contributing to between 15,000 and 30,000 deaths.  This super germ produces toxins that destroy the gut causing from mild diarrhea to very serious conditions in which the colon walls become so thin they rupture.  If you are taking antibiotics for another condition, the drugs can wipe out the healthy bacteria in the gut and allow C. diff to multiply.

What can we do to keep ourselves and future generations safe?  Fortunately, we are not completely defenseless. Here are some things we can do to protect ourselves and slow the advancement of these super germs.

* Get vaccinated for the flu.

* Hand-washing may be the most effective daily defense.  Some viruses can live as long as 72 hours on surfaces like doorknobs, countertops, and faucets.  Wash your hands, especially after you’ve been in public places. If you get these bugs on your hands and touch your eyes,mouth, or nose, you could get sick.

* Cover up.  Bandage all cuts, even paper cuts and blisters.

* If receiving treatment at a medical facility ask the doctor to swab his stethoscope with alcohol.  Researchers found that one in three stethoscopes used by emergency medical service providers was contaminated with MRSA.

* At the health club use disinfectant wipes to swab handlebars of equipment and cover shared mats and locker room benches with a clean towel.  Shower after your workout and use soap while washing thoroughly.

* Don’t share personal items like razors, soap, or towels.

* C. diff bacteria can exist for months on surfaces.  They can only be killed by bleach.  Clean cabinet surfaces periodically with bleach.

* If you visit a hospital wash yourself and your clothes right after.

* Don’t use bar soap in the hospital bathroom.

* Request that medical personnel wash their hands.  If medical personnel have pulled on gloves over dirty hands, the gloves are contaminated too.

* Take your prescribed medications for infections.  If you stop the drugs too soon, lingering bacteria and germs may mutate and develop resistance.

* Practice good food hygiene and keep raw meat, poultry, and seafood separate from other foods in the refrigerator and during food preparation.

Following these common sense tips, you can help protect yourself and others from the spread of these deadly “Super Germs”.

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