Dr Benson said the following points help to create a better understanding of antibiotic resistance:
1. A person does not develop resistance or immunity to an antibiotic.
The bacteria that can cause infection develop mechanisms that bypass the effect of the antibiotic, making them less effective.
The outcome is a reduced choice of antibiotics for treatment and a greater chance of complications and in some cases death.
2. Bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics are not more likely to cause infection or an increased severity of infection than those that are not resistant.
The term ‘superbug’ is misleading.
3. Bacteria are mostly responsible for our good health.
Antibiotics damage not just the organisms causing infection, but will alter the other organisms that live on the skin or in the gut.
This can produce side-effects not just for the individual, but also for the community, now and in the future.
4. Antibiotics are currently the most effective way of treating severe infections.
This use makes up a small fraction of the total volume of antibiotics used. Many patients with minor illnesses, viral infections or who are worried about infection should not be given antibiotics ‘just in case.’