Last Resort Antibiotic Use On The Rise, Be Cautious Not Careless


Hospitals are increasingly turning to “last-resort” antibiotics as the number of drug-resistant infections continues to rise.

More people suffered a “significant antibiotic-resistant infection” – both in hospitals and the community – between 2010 and 2014, a new report from Public Health England (PHE) shows.

Rates of bloodstream infections caused by E. coli jumped 15.6 per cent and Klebsiella pneumoniae increased by  20.8 per cent from 2010  to 2014.

E. coli can cause severe stomach cramps, vomiting and diarrhoea that may be bloody, and in serious cases can lead to kidney failure and death. Klebsiella pneumoniae causes urinary-tract infections and pneumonia but can also lead to blood poisoning.

While overall resistance to key antibiotics used to treat infections has remained constant in E. coli, the fact there are more bloodstream infections means more people have suffered a significant antibiotic-resistant infection.

Most antibiotics are prescribed in GP surgeries (74 per cent) while hospitals account for 18 per cent of all antibiotic prescribing. Hospitals use more broad-spectrum antibiotics, which are effective against a wide range of bacteria – and the report showed that the use of these drugs rose significantly between 2010 and 2014. The use of carbapenems and piperacillin/tazobactam – regarded as “last-resort” antibiotics – increased by 36 per cent and 55 per cent, respectively, over the period, although the rate of increase is slowing.


Antibiotics and similar drugs, together called antimicrobial agents, have been used for the last 70 years to treat patients who have infectious diseases. Since the 1940s, these drugs have greatly reduced illness and death from infectious diseases. However, these drugs have been used so widely and for so long that the infectious organisms the antibiotics are designed to kill have adapted to them, making the drugs less effective.

Each year in the United States, at least 2 million people become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics and at least 23,000 people die each year as a direct result of these infections.

Efforts to prevent antibiotic resistance build on the foundation of proven public health strategies. Know these quick facts:


Antibiotics are almost never needed for bronchitis, a condition that occurs when the airways in the lungs swell and produce mucus, which causes a person to cough. While there are many different types of bronchitis, the following information is specific to one of the most common types—acute bronchitis.

Acute bronchitis, or chest cold, often occurs after an upper respiratory infection like a cold, and is usually caused by a viral infection. The most common viruses that cause acute bronchitis include:

Common Cold

Antibiotics cannot cure the common cold, one of the most frequent reasons children miss school and adults miss work. Every year, adults have an average of 2–3 colds, and children have even more.

More than 200 viruses can cause the common cold, and infections can spread from person to person through the air and close personal contact. Antibiotics do not work against these viruses and do not help you feel better if you have a cold. Rhinovirus is the most common type of virus that causes colds.

There are many things that can increase your risk for the common cold, including:

  • Exposure to someone with the common cold
  • Age (infants and young children are at higher risk for colds)
  • A weakened immune system or taking drugs that weaken the immune system
  • Season (colds are more common during the fall and winter)

See a healthcare professional if you or your child has any of the following symptoms:

  • Temperature higher than 100.4 °F
  • Symptoms that last more than 10 days
  • Symptoms that are severe or unusual

Flu Warnings and Sickness

You may have the flu if you have some or all of these symptoms:

  • fever*
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • runny or stuffy nose
  • body aches
  • headache
  • chills
  • fatigue
  • sometimes diarrhea and vomiting

*It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.

What should I do if I get sick?

Most people with the flu have mild illness and do not need medical care or antiviral drugs. If you get sick with flu symptoms, in most cases, you should stay home and avoid contact with other people except to get medical care.

If, however, you have symptoms of flu and are in a high risk group, or are very sick or worried about your illness, contact your health care provider (doctor, physician’s assistant, etc.).

Certain people are at high risk of serious flu-related complications (including young children, people 65 and older, pregnant women and people with certain medical conditions) and this is true both for seasonal flu and novel flu virus infections. (For a full list of people at high risk of flu-related complications, see People at High Risk of Developing Flu–Related Complications). If you are in a high risk group and develop flu symptoms, it’s best for you to contact your doctor. Remind them about your high risk status for flu.

Health care providers will determine whether influenza testing and treatment are needed. Your doctor may prescribe antiviral drugs that can treat the flu. These drugs work better for treatment the sooner they are started.

Be well…

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