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Antibiotics are medicines that kill or slow the growth of bacteria, while antimicrobials kill or slow the growth of other organisms including bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites.
Antibiotic or antimicrobial resistance happens when the bacteria or organism develops a resistance to certain drugs. In other words, a particular drug is no longer able to kill or control the growth of a specific bacteria or organism.
Other terms used to describe this situation include antibacterial resistance, and drug-resistance organisms. When a bacteria or organism is resistant to more than one drug, the term multidrug resistant (MDR) is often used.
Examples of resistant bacteria and organisms include:
No. Penicillin resistance to Staphylococcus aureus was first noted in the 1940s. Wide spread use of antibiotics plus the natural evolution of bacteria over time has led to a number of resistant strains emerging.
Antibiotic or antimicrobial infections can happen anywhere to anyone. The Government of Canada states that certain groups of people, in general, are at a greater risk of infections, which also means that they are at a greater risk of having an infection caused by an antibiotic or antimicrobial agent.
At risk groups include:
People who have occupations that may expose them to bacteria or infectious diseases may also be at risk, such as doctors, nurses, veterinarians, meat processing workers, and farmers.
Resistant bacteria or organisms spread the same way as non-resistant ones. They can spread from person to person by touching, coughing, sneezing, or being exposed to bodily fluids. They can live on surfaces such as doorknobs, keyboards, or utensils. You may also be exposed if you handle, prepare or eat foods that are contaminated, such as meat, poultry, dairy, fruits and vegetables. Government of Canada also states that contaminated water or soil can also infect us through direct contact or by putting bacteria into our food. Some bacteria can be passed from animals to people, either through contact or by manure.
The Government of Canada and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) both recommend using good hygiene practices to reduce the spread of infections and viruses.
If you are admitted to a hospital or are under the care of a healthcare professional, talk to your healthcare professional. Tell them if you notice a skin infection (especially at a surgical site) or if you have diarrhea. Ask that everyone clean their hands before touching you. Ask for tests to make sure the right antibiotic is being prescribed.
The Government of Canada recommends visiting a healthcare professional if you think you need a prescription. Proper diagnosis is necessary. Not all illnesses can or should be treated with antibiotics. If you are prescribed antibiotics, use them responsibly by:
Because a health care worker will help many patients during a shift, it is important to follow certain steps to control the spread of infection. You should check with your infection control department about routine practices and for any specific requirements.
In general, these methods include: