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Antibiotic Resistance: 'It's a problem that is getting worse.'

NATIONWIDE-- The World Health Organization, calling for changes in how antibiotics are prescribed.
NATIONWIDE-- The World Health Organization, calling for changes in how antibiotics are prescribed. Otherwise, health officials say we could see a more rapid spread of "super-bugs" worldwide.

The super-bug spread is so serious, the World Health Organization declared it a global threat on Wednesday.

Antibiotics were created to combat bacteria and doctors have prescribed them to treat infectious diseases for years. Now people may need to start thinking of other ways to protect themselves.

For Mercy Hospitalist, Dr. Ralph Ritz, prescribing antibiotics when necessary is routine.

Ritz said, "I see about eighteen people per day. Probably at least 12 of those 18 are on antibiotics."

Ritz said antibiotics were created to combat bacteria, but more and more patients across the world are resisting the drugs. Once that happens, doctors look for something stronger, but even that can be ineffective.

Ritz said, "It's definitely a problem that we face every day. it's a problem that is getting worse."

So what is causing this worldwide dilemma and what can people do to resist drug resistance? University of Arkansas biological science professor, Dr. Mack Ivey, studies bacteria and infectious diseases. One in particular, he's found arises from a surprising source.

Ivey said, "It's essentially caused by your taking the first antibiotic but it's often treated with a second antibiotic."

Ivey is trying to come up with an alternate treatment to combat disease, one that doesn't include antibiotics. "It makes me more enthusiastic about coming to work and doing what I do because I feel as though I can contribute something to help solve the problem. If I can swing things away from using another antibiotic to treat an antibiotic-associated infection then that's one little step forward."

In the meantime, there are ways people can help themselves. Ivey said, "Physicians are not by any means the sole cause. patients are not the sole cause but there is an issue with patients insisting on antibiotic treatments for colds."

Ritz said, "It's always very difficult to convince patients that they would do just as well without antibiotics. We would really all be better off if we didn't take so many antibiotics for infections that really don't need them."

According to the world health organization report, this antibiotic resistance is a worldwide threat. Dr. Ivey said he doesn't see a scientific solution to the problem for at least another ten years.

To view the World Health Organization report, click here.

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