Posted by: Emily Hardaker12 MAR 2013
As you’ve probably heard a few days ago Dame Sally Davies reported that antibiotic resistance and untreatable infections pose a ‘catastrophic threat’ to the population. This is a very worrying issue, although what I think is more worrying are the comments people are posting underneath these online news articles. What alarms me most is people’s lack of knowledge on the subject and the ease with which they are disregarding the story.
Take the BBC’s comments board as one example, one contributor posted a story about being given antibiotics by their Doctor for a minor skin rash that he knew was viral. On talking to a nurse she replied that the patient shouldn’t use the prescribed medication but should let the rash clear up itself. This comment highlights the ease with which some GPs prescribe antibiotics and their disregard for the growing resistance problem. I understand that some patients on contracting a cold or flu will pester their Doctors until they give them antibiotics for it because they think it will make them better, however it just can’t go on. Another comment on the BBC reiterated this as one man was exasperated because he’d been to the Doctors the past few weeks for colds and flu and they hadn’t given him anything. Thank fully someone replied telling him that colds and flu are both viral. At least that’s one less person to educate. On the Guardian website one reader helpfully suggested homeopathy as an alternative to antibiotics saying that it had previously cured her daughter’s insomnia and saved her cat from being put down. Unfortunately she was shot down in flames by other contributors telling her that homeopathy is essentially water. Regardless it may have been a useful suggestion especially for those who are demanding unnecessary antibiotics from their GP. A lot of others are comparing this to the bird and swine flu scares that apparently never happened. Others are attributing it to Government propaganda. On the bright side there are many comments from microbiologists, GPs and other scientific and health professionals to offset all of these other comments. More worryingly was when I was watching the news with two of my housemates last night they both turned to me and asked me to explain the story. They wanted to know whether it was the patients who had taken too many antibiotics would they be the ones who were resistant to them and would they be fine as they hadn’t? This thoroughly depressed me as this is the key piece of information behind the whole problem. It may just be that the news programme hadn’t explained that fully enough or that they weren’t listening properly, regardless I think this highlights a glaring problem in the education of the general public with regards to this issue which is growing ever more serious.