Misuse of antibiotics may have dangerous consequences

Antibiotics are miracle drugs that have saved millions of lives. But their misuse and overuse is having dangerous consequences. It's creating antibiotic-resistant bacteria that have spread from hospitals into our communities.

Consumer Reports calls the rise of the superbug a major crisis of our times and says we all have a role to play in stopping them.

Zachary had just finished a doubleheader baseball game when his mother says he started to cry.

Marnie Doubek, Zachary's mother said, "I said, 'What's the matter?' And he said, 'My knee hurts, I have a headache, and I'm dizzy.'"

Zachary's condition worsened overnight and quickly escalated. Doctors gave him an antibiotic, but it didn't work; the infection raced through his body, almost killing him. A year later, Zachary still walks with a limp.

Zachary had been infected with MRSA, one of a growing number of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. They infect at least two million people a year in the U.S. and kill 23,000.

"When people are sick, they expect -- and deserve -- medications that work. But the unrestrained use of antibiotics is creating superbugs that are undermining the drugs we rely on to fight infections," said Lisa Gill with Consumer Reports.

The problem: Not all infections can be cured by an antibiotic. The misuse and overuse in people, livestock, poultry, and farmed seafood has led to mutations of bacteria that are now resistant to once-effective drugs.

"Doctors and consumers are part of the problem. We use antibiotics even if they won't work, like for a cold or the flu, and sometimes we're the ones who insist on using them."

In fact, a Consumer Report survey found one in five people who got an antibiotic asked their doctor to prescribe it.

Zachary's mother, who is a family doctor, sees the problem firsthand.

"If I have a patient who's really pushing, sometimes I say to them, I'm like, 'You're fighting with the wrong doctor. You have no idea from where I come from now. This over prescribing almost killed my son,'" she said.


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