Friday 23 August 2019

Warning as use soars of 'last resort' antibiotics

Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

THE growing use of "last resort" antibiotics in Irish hospitals could result in the drugs becoming less effective against serious infection, leading to more illness and death, a new report has warned.

The carbapenems group of antibiotics have doubled in use here in the last five years, according to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre.

The trend is "alarming" because there has been a worldwide rise in resistance to these drugs, with patients in intensive care in particular danger.

The failure rate can lead to illnesses becoming resistant to treatments that were formerly able to kill them.

The report calls for these antibiotics to be tightly controlled in hospitals, with more discussion on their use with infection control experts.

It warns: "An increase in infections due to carbapenem-resistant bacteria in Ireland would result in significant increases in morbidity, mortality and healthcare costs as has been seen in other countries."

It comes as members of the public are invited to a free lecture on the antibiotic crisis in UCC tomorrow night, where experts will reveal how resistance threatens to make routine operations impossible and "a scratched knee potentially fatal".

Professor Mary Horgan said: "New infections emerge for a variety of reasons; ecological, environmental and human factors that put people in contact with unfamiliar bugs. Bugs are smart and want to survive so they develop strategies to evade our immune systems or the treatments we have to kill them."

It recently emerged that one in 50 Irish people is taking antibiotics every day. But the drugs are not working in many cases because the cause of the illness is due to a virus and not bacteria.

GPs have been accused of handing out antibiotics too freely in the past.

They are under pressure to tell patients who are suffering from a cold and looking for an antibiotic this winter to seek over-the-counter symptom relief medication instead.

The advice is that paracetamol, aspirin and ibuprofen are also effective in reducing temperatures and relieving muscle pain which are associated with a cold virus.

The patient should take as much rest as possible and maintain their fluid intake.

The UCC lecture will be held at 8pm tomorrow night in the Western Gate Building.

Irish Independent

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