Author Archives: Ramanan Laxminarayan

Protecting a Valuable Natural Resource: Antibiotics

Nov 15, 2012, 4:15 PM, Posted by Ramanan Laxminarayan

Ramanan Laxminarayan Ramanan Laxminarayan

Antibiotics are a shared resource for protecting the public’s health. Since their introduction in 1941, antibiotics have saved millions of lives and transformed modern medicine. But the more you or I—or anyone—uses antibiotics when we don’t need them, the more we contribute to the development of antibiotic-resistant microbes—and to the frightening prospect of a world where most infections don’t respond to antibiotics. If we don’t take collective action soon, this unthinkable scenario could become a reality.

To many who have heard these warnings before, antibiotic resistance seems like an evergreen issue that is always off in the distance. That is simply no longer true. We lose more people to just one kind of drug-resistant infection—methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus—than to HIV. The cumulative toll from all resistant infections in the United States is much greater. Each and every one of us has a responsibility to protect the arsenal that we have—those antibiotics that are still effective—to fight deadly pathogens.

View full post

C. diff Infections: Worse Than We Thought

Aug 21, 2012, 1:20 PM, Posted by Ramanan Laxminarayan

Ramanan Laxminarayan Ramanan Laxminarayan

Infections caused by the dangerous microbe Clostridium difficile, or C. diff, are much more prevalent in hospitals and health care facilities than previously reported, according to an investigative front page story in last week’s USA Today. This bug is most often seen in hospitals, nursing homes, and other medical facilities. It causes severe diarrhea and intestinal problems that can worsen and even be fatal. The story cites a scientist from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who says annual fatalities may be as high as 30,000 per year, more than twice as high as some recent estimates.

The article accurately points to many reasons for this problem. Many hospital infection control programs aren’t stringent enough and C. diff reporting rates are poor. Hospitals need to be more prudent in their antibiotic use. C. diff thrives when healthy bacteria usually present in the intestines are wiped out by certain antibiotics patients take. In the absence of these healthy bacteria, C. diff can take over.

View full post