Super bugs - a major global health threat – Hope 103.2

Super bugs – a major global health threat

The World Heath Organisation is warning that we may be on the cusp of a “post-antibiotic era” where people die of infectious diseases that are currently treatable.

By Katrina RoeThursday 1 May 2014Hope MorningsHealth and WellbeingReading Time: 2 minutes

There are more bacteria in your body that there have ever been people on earth. That’s why ‘superbugs’ are creating a major global health threat.

The World Heath Organisation is warning that we may be on the cusp of a “post-antibiotic era” where people die of infectious diseases that are currently treatable.   At present, superbugs are far more prevalent in countries like India and China, but travelling Australians are bringing them back. 

Professor Peter Collingnon is a Professor in Infectious Diseases at the Australian National University.  He explains that superbugs are bacteria that have developed resistance to antibiotics.

“These bacteria have a bullet-proof vest on them so when we fire antibiotics at them they bounce off,” Professor Collingnon explains.  “Because bacteria are so good at evolving to meet the situation, they either mutate and develop resistance, or pick up resistance from somewhere else.  Then that particular bacteria gets an advantage when you put antibiotics in that area.”

However there are things we can do to reduce the threat of superbugs.

1) Get serious about personal hygiene to prevent the spread of infection.  

2) Be extremely careful about only eating safe food and drinking safe water while overseas

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3) Don’t take part in medical tourism.  Having an operation overseas may be cheaper, but the risk of bringing back an infection is real. 

4) Question your doctor when they prescribe antibiotics and don’t use them unless really necessary.   

Professor Peter Collingnon says that the overuse of antibiotics for food production is rapidly accelerating the growth of resistance.  Relying on more traditional grazing methods, rather than raising livestock in cramped conditions, dramatically reduces the need for antibiotics.  

Audio – Hear Professor Peter Collingnon explain how to join the fight against superbugs.