PEI

How to stop antibiotic-resistant bacteria from killing Islanders

A new report on antibiotic resistant bacteria says hundreds of thousands of Canadians could be killed by the superbugs if action isn't taken, and a P.E.I. doctor says the fight is local as well as national.

'One Islander is going to be dying every day by 2050 if we do not do something about it'

The battle is not about using less antibiotics, but the right ones, says Dr. Greg German. (Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters)

A new report on antibiotic-resistant bacteria says hundreds of thousands of Canadians could be killed by the superbugs if action isn't taken, and a P.E.I. doctor says the fight is local as well as national.

Bacteria are developing resistance to antibiotics through overuse both in humans and in livestock. The report, commissioned by the Public Health Agency of Canada, says growing resistance will cost 396,000 Canadian lives, and cost $120 billion in hospital expense by 2050.

"Antibiotics, we have to be wise and careful regarding their use and avoid overuse," said Health PEI medical microbiologist Dr. Greg German.

"One Islander is going to be dying every day by 2050 if we do not do something about it."

The battle requires a multi-pronged approach, including cleaner hands and cleaner hospitals, German said. He said it is not about using less antibiotics so much as more appropriate ones, and tracking the results of changing practices, locally as well as nationally.

Success with UTI treatments

He said the experience on P.E.I. is antibiotic resistance can not only be slowed but even turned around to a degree.

For example, P.E.I. has been making progress with antibiotics used to treat urinary tract infections, and the bacteria causing them have become more susceptible to treatment in recent years.

Stronger antibiotics need to be saved for when they're really needed, says German. (CBC News: Compass)

Doctors have been prescribing different antibiotics that are less harmful to the gut and go more directly to the bladder.

"What we're really trying to do is focus on saving those stronger antibiotics for when we really need them," said German.

"Every time we take an antibiotic it can hurt the gut, it can make it more likely that you're going to have a drug-resistant infection."

Probiotics can help, and can come from capsules or from natural sources such as kefir and fermented foods. (CBC)

The goal is to use the right antibiotic, with the right dose, for the right amount of time.

Patients can also contribute by taking probiotics at the same time as they are taking antibiotics, he said. Taking probiotics can not only help in the short-term, by avoiding diarrhea, but also in the long-term, by reducing the risk of an antibiotic-resistant bacterial infection.

More P.E.I. news

With files from Island Morning

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?

now