I read with interest this article in last week’s Seattle Times: The first patient in the U.S. has been identified as infected with bacteria resistant to an antibiotic that was the last resort against drug-resistant germs.
While the patient in Pennsylvania has recovered, the case raises a troubling issue that has been reported for some time: Overuse of antibiotics in people, and in animals that are used for human consumption, puts human health at risk. That’s because such overuse, which not only includes prescription drugs but commonly-used items like antibacterial soaps, reduces the power of drugs to work.
In fact, the article notes, “about 2 million Americans fall ill from antibiotic-resistant bacteria every year and at least 23,000 die.”
Even the U.S. Centers for Disease Control has weighed in, stating the following:
“Taking antibiotics for viral infections, such as colds, flu, most sore throats, bronchitis, and many sinus or ear infections:
- Will not cure the infection
- Will not keep other people from getting sick
- Will not help you or your child feel better
- May cause unnecessary and harmful side effects
- May contribute to antibiotic resistance, which is when bacteria are able to resist the effects of an antibiotic and continue to cause harm”
Regarding the use of antibacterial soaps, Colleen Rogers, Ph.D., a lead microbiologist at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had this to say: There currently is no evidence that over-the-counter (OTC) antibacterial soap products are any more effective at preventing illness than washing with plain soap and water.
Moreover, antibacterial soap products contain chemical ingredients, such as triclosan and triclocarban, which may carry unnecessary risks given that their benefits are unproven, the FDA says.
“New data suggest that the risks associated with long-term, daily use of antibacterial soaps may outweigh the benefits,” Rogers says. There are indications that certain ingredients in these soaps may contribute to bacterial resistance to antibiotics, and may have unanticipated hormonal effects that are of concern to FDA.
The bottom line: Being in overall good health ensures your body has the ability to fight infections, naturally — without the use of drugs or antibiotics. If you are not feeling your best — due to a work or auto accident, sports injury or other musculoskeletal issues — call our office at 425-778-9600 for a consultation.
— Dr. Waldron