WHO, CDC warn antibiotic resistant superbugs are the next major public health threat

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The CDC estimates that millions of superbug infections happen every year in the U.S. and now it’s one of the top ten public health threats in the world.

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Superbugs aren’t one type of bacteria. Instead, doctors say it’s the overuse or misuse of antibiotics that can create these drug resistant superbugs.

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Doctors say these superbug infections are dangerous because the antibiotics designed to kill them off aren’t effective anymore.

“You think COVID is bad, if we get a bacteria that is in fact highly infectious, and resistant to all of the antibiotics we have out there, this could truly be a catastrophe,” said Dr. Jerome Adams, former U.S. Surgeon General.

The CDC and World Health Organization both warn these supercharged infections are on track to cause 10 million deaths over the next few decades if things don’t change.

“An antibiotic resistance is going to have a dramatic impact on our children and grandchildren,” Adams said.

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Dr. Adams said we must rethink when to use an antibiotic to treat illnesses, especially ones with symptoms for colds, sore throats, and ear infections.

“Antibiotics are not always the right answer. They’re extremely important in treating bacterial infections,” Adams said. “But in most cases, they’re not helpful, particularly for treating viral infections, and COVID-like symptoms.”

The CDC reports nearly 28 percent of antibiotics prescribed during outpatient care are unnecessary.

Dr. Adams said some doctors may face pressure from patients to prescribe them, but he said sometimes the best medicine is time.

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“We need to trust our doctors, when they say, I don’t think you need an antibiotic, we need to continue to follow symptoms. And if they don’t improve, then follow up with your doctor,” Adams said.

Dr. Adams said awareness is the first step to preventing more superbugs. Then, he wants to see more funding for research and technology that will help doctors determine you need an antibiotic or not.

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