Canadians are in real danger according to a recent report by the Ontario Medical Association.  The report entitled “When Antibiotics Stop Working” says that infections with antibiotic-resistant bacteria are becoming more frequent and difficult to treat, resulting in serious illness and even death.


Ontario’s doctors are warning that the over-use of these crucial medicines weakens their ability to save human lives, and are calling on federal and provincial governments to enact regulatory changes that will help to reverse this threat by reducing the growth of antibiotic resistant bacteria.


The report finds antibiotics are not as effective as they once were because bacteria are adapting to them.  These resistant bacteria are germs that can cause infections like pneumonia, urinary tract infections, or skin infections.  For example, ten years ago one dose of antibiotics could have effectively treated a child suffering from strep throat, but it is now becoming more common for a child to have repeated strep throat infections, and for these to develop into more serious consequences, like scarlet fever.  And if the first-choice antibiotic fails, physicians are forced to prescribe new ones with harsher side effects.


It is important that everyone who has access to antibiotics shift perspectives and begin to use them as responsibly and prudently as possible.   Using antibiotics more carefully, for example, means closing the loophole that allows farmers to feed these medications to their livestock without prescriptions simply to promote growth. And it means keeping better track of patients’ antibiotic histories so that physicians can prescribe the medication most likely to work.


Some of the recommendations in the report include the need for the Province to develop a system for farm industry surveillance to keep track of the identities and quantities of antibiotics being purchased as well as those being moved into or out of Ontario ( no surveillance of antibiotic movement currently exists in the province), and a call for a veterinary prescription-only standard of access to antibiotics for animals.  The report also recommends the establishment of an independent institution to develop and maintain optimal antibiotic use guidelines that Ontario physicians can use to guide their practice, particularly when dealing with resistant bacteria and less familiar antibiotics.

“Ontario’s doctors are concerned about the growing rate of antibiotic resistant bacteria.” says Dr Doug Weir, President of the O.M.A.”Patients are at risk of becoming sicker, taking longer to recover and it some cases dying from previously treatable diseases.  Data shows that we can reduce antibiotic resistant bacteria when the use of antibiotics is modified.  Adopting the recommendations in the report will help us achieve this.”


SOURCE: Ontario Medical Association

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