CDC: Antibiotic overusage having dangerous consequences - FOX Carolina 21

CDC: Antibiotic overusage having dangerous consequences

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GREENVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina) -

Antibiotics and similar drugs have been used to treat patients with infectious diseases for decades. On the good side, that has reduced illness and death from illnesses. But, there is bad that goes along with it.

There are staggering numbers recently released by the Centers for Disease Control. The CDC reports that 2 million infections and 23,000 deaths are due to antibiotic resistant germs. Those are germs that continue to spread, despite taking medicine.

The CDC has issued a new warning to think twice about what adults and children are taking when they get sick. Many parents, like Heather Devine of Greenville County, are already aware of the impact of antibiotic resistant germs. She has three children, including 4-year-old Margaret.

Devine said, "Our doctor is very conservative and does not just give us an antibiotic." That means he often recommends other medications for the symptoms, like fever or pain.

The director of the Centers for Disease Control, Doctor Tom Frieden agrees. "What we are seeing is that about half of the antibiotics used in this country are unnecessary or inappropriate and there's an impact."

Doctor Frieden also believes that when a parent takes a child to the doctor, it is important that they do not demand an antibiotic for every illness.

"This is the flu season, the cold season and the vast majority of colds and the flu are caused by viruses. Viruses are not covered by antibiotics," said Frieden.

There is an impact of over-using antibiotics. It can build resistance to illnesses and dangerous germs. That could mean more difficulty in fighting infections down the road or even controlling the spread to other people. "As a result, we're seeing a steady increase to the proportion of bacterial infections that aren't killed by antibiotics," said Frieden.

The CDC's plan is to change mindsets. The agency recommends keeping updated on immunizations, using safe food preparation, thorough hand washing and using antibiotics only when necessary. For example, not every ear infection needs an antibiotic.

Doctor Frieden believes sometimes patience is the best medicine. He said, "For kids that have infections or coughs, many times antibiotics are not necessary. Watchful waiting is a better approach and safer as well."

A safer approach for children like Margaret Devine. Her mother knows fewer antibiotics could mean being better equipped to fight infections later. "We are not one to go to the doctor and just say give me an antibiotic and make us feel better. We avoid that at all costs," said Heather Devine.

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