No Man Is An Island: The Antibiotic Resistance Bell Tolls For Us All

Posted on by CDC's Safe Healthcare Blog
Everly Macario, Sc.D., M.S., Ed.M.
Everly Macario, Sc.D., M.S., Ed.M.

Guest Author: Everly Macario

My hearty and angelic son, Simon Sol Sparrow, was 18 months old when he died from a rapid onset infection. We took him to the hospital in the evening and by the following morning he was gone.

Months later, we learned from the autopsy results that the cause of his death was methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, known as “MRSA,” a “superbug.” The diagnosis shocked me. I work in the health care field and have a degree in public health and yet I had never heard of MRSA until that moment. That was 11 years ago.

MRSA is one of many antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections that plague our country and world. MRSA alone causes approximately 80,000 infections and 11,000 deaths per year in the United States. And, unfortunately, that is just the tip of the iceberg. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conservatively estimates that antibiotic-resistant bacteria, including MRSA, cause approximately 2 million serious infections and more than 23,000 deaths each year in the United States.

Antibiotic resistance has quickly become a public health and medical crisis, and the underlying reason for this reality is this fact: the more we use antibiotics, the less effective they become.

Bacteria are constantly mutating and finding new ways to survive the antibiotics used to eliminate them – this does happen naturally. Using antibiotics unnecessarily (when an antibiotic is not called for) and inappropriately (using the wrong antibiotic, at the wrong dose or for the wrong duration), however, accelerates this process and drives resistance.

This week, as part of Get Smart About Antibiotics Week, I will join other “Supermoms Against Superbugs,” the CDC, and The Pew Charitable Trusts to talk about my story with policymakers and the public and urge all of us to take action.

Please join us in this effort. No one individual or group alone, and no singular action, can conquer antibiotic resistance. It will take each of us. The good news is that even small steps like asking your doctor questions about antibiotic resistance can make a big difference. Check out CDC’s list of tips for ensuring that you and your family are using antibiotics wisely, sample social media posts, and other Get Smart About Antibiotics resources. Think about what you can do today to raise awareness and combat antibiotic resistance – Simon’s death will not have been in vain and future generations will thank you.

On November 18, 2015, as part of Get Smart About Antibiotics Week, The Pew Charitable Trusts will host a briefing in Washington, D.C., to raise awareness about the growing threat of antibiotic resistance and the importance of using antibiotics appropriately. Join the briefing via webcast and learn more about this issue.

Posted on by CDC's Safe Healthcare Blog

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Page last reviewed: November 18, 2016
Page last updated: November 18, 2016