Press Release from AMMI
April 30, 2012
At this week’s AMMI Canada – CACMID Annual Conference in Vancouver, experts in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of infectious diseases from acrossCanadaare gathered to share information and strategies that will help us better prevent and manage infection. Antimicrobial resistance is a hot topic, both as a public health concern and as a challenge when treating individual Canadians.
The odds are high that antibiotic resistance has touched you or someone you know. Whether your experience meant an ineffective round of antibiotics for a urinary tract infection or a life-threatening intensive care unit stay, resistant bacteria are an increasing part of the medical landscape worldwide – to such an extent that within the past year both the World Health Organization and the Public Health Agency of Canada have listed Antimicrobial Resistance as a top public health priority.
Before the discovery and large scale production of penicillin in the 1940s, bacterial infections that now are easily cured by a handful of pills caused prolonged illnesses and death. Antibiotics are commonly seen as one of the greatest medical advances of the last century, but these gains are threatened by increasing antimicrobial resistance, with inappropriate use of antibiotics in people, pets and agriculture a major contributor to the rising numbers of antibiotic resistant bacteria.
“Patients and doctors alike feel safer when antibiotic treatment is given; although studies suggest that half of antibiotics used are unnecessary, often given for viral infections. This comfort with antibiotic therapy is misguided, because allergies, Clostridium difficile diarrhea, and resistance can complicate up to 25% of antibiotic use” says Dr. Jennifer Grant, aVancouver based Microbiologist and Infectious Diseases specialist from AMMI.Canada.
The modern face of bacterial resistance is complicated by advanced medical therapies leaving more patients less able to fight infection due to chemotherapy and immunosuppressive medications. This leads to intensive use of multiple types of antibiotics, and the emergence of resistant bacteria. Worldwide travel can also increase resistance by bringing home toCanadanear-to-impossible-to-treat strains that easily transfer their resistance genes to other bacteria.
Examples of these “near untreatable” infections are not as rare as one might think. At this meeting researchers and clinicians will discuss an alarming and exotic sounding alphabet soup of bacteria such as NDM-1 Gramnegatives, MRSA, ESBLs, and VRE. Experts will discuss how to rapidly detect and treat these resistant bacteria and also review strategies to use antibiotics prudently, to lower the risk of these bacteria appearing in the first place.
“We are excited that antimicrobial resistance is getting recognition as an area for surveillance and action, as it really is a public health crises in evolution. Currently, our monitoring of resistance is far behind surveillance programs inEuropeand elsewhere. I’d say that if the federal government could devote maybe 1% of the cost of a single F35 jet to antimicrobial resistance monitoring and initiatives in public health, we’d be in a good position to track how resistance is evolving acrossCanada. Then we could design and implement targeted strategies for better antibiotic use” says Dr. Lynora Saxinger, chair of the Antimicrobial Stewardship and Resistance Committee of AMMI. “These microbes are a clear and present danger.”
The Association of Medical Microbiology and Infectious Disease (AMMI) Canada(www.ammi.ca) is the national association that represents physicians and researchers specializing in the fields of medical microbiology and infectious diseases.
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