There has been a dramatic rise in antibiotic resistance over the past few years. Figures from the HPA (Health Protection Agency) reveal that in 2003 only 3 samples had evidence of antimicrobial resistance, whereas in 2012
there were 800 reported cases. This is obviously a dramatic increase. Some of these strains of resistance are already well established, but due to international travel we are also seeing new strains coming from South East

We are getting increasingly concerned about this as we might be facing a situation in the near future, where we don’t have antibiotics that we can use to fight even minor infections. So how does resistance develop? The main causes are overprescribing of antibiotics, especially in the case of viral illnesses, as well as patients using and not finishing the course. This gives the bacteria time to learn how to outwit the antibiotics, as the bacteria gets suppressed by these unfinished courses, but not eradicated, giving them time to learn how to overcome
the particular antibiotic.

I recently wrote an article on the rise in resistance in the antibiotics that we use to treat gonorrhoea for instance. This is but one of the latest examples of how overuse of an antibiotic can lead to resistance. For many years doctors were handing out cefixime for this infection, even when patients did not have gonorrhoea. We now have only one option left to treat this disease, and it won’t be long before we have the same problem with more antibiotics. It is all of our responsibility to be more careful when it comes to the overuse of antibiotics