Antibiotic Awareness Week

World Antibiotic Awareness Week: New Breakthrough In Battle To Reduce Antibiotic Resistance

This week (16-22 November) is World Antibiotic Awareness Week. Coinciding with this is the news that Bath University researchers have developed a type of medical dressing which changes colour when an infection is present. Not only could this help save lives through earlier treatment, but it could also help provide a solution to the growing global concern of antibiotic resistance.

About World Antibiotic Awareness Week

World Antibiotic Awareness Week is a global campaign fronted by the World Health Organisation which aims to increase awareness of antibiotic resistance – fast becoming a major growing health concern. This week, scientists have warned of a ‘post-antibiotics era’, following the discovery of major antibiotic resistance in pigs in China, a phenomenon that is becoming more and more of an issue in treating humans.

Antibiotics are often routinely prescribed by doctors in order to treat routine illnesses in place of other treatment options. This means that patients become resistant to antibiotics, making their conditions difficult to treat. Even conditions such as a broken arm could prove difficult to treat because of the necessity for antibiotics in order to heal the bones.

It is hoped that through World Antibiotics Awareness Week, people will become more informed about seeking treatment for common coughs and colds, practicing self-care and using pharmacy services, rather than relying on their doctors.

Major breakthrough for the treatment of wounds

Bath University scientists’ revolutionary dressings work by releasing a coloured, fluorescent dye placed in small capsules when they come into contact with toxins produced by bacteria. This indicator will allow doctors to treat infections quicker, saving lives and ensuring shorter hospital stays, less scarring and fewer medical resources. It will also help to improve the situation around antibiotic resistance.

Currently, antibiotics are being prescribed as more of a precautionary measure, often when an infection is unclear. It is hoped that by using these new types of dressings, millions of lives could be saved and the effects of antibiotic resistance will be lessened. The Medical Research Council has awarded almost £1m to the team to help them test their dressings on burns victims in order for their research to continue and advance.

Getting involved in World Antibiotic Awareness Week

One of the easiest ways to get involved in World Antibiotic Awareness Week is to educate yourself about antibiotics, as well as how to look after yourself when you’re suffering from a minor illness such as a cold. Other tips for reducing your risk of antibiotic resistance include:

  • Refusing antibiotics for colds and flu, opting for other types of medication first, as most of these viruses will go away on their own.
  • Taking your full course of antibiotics as prescribed and letting them run their course. Avoid stopping when you think you feel better.
  • Do not hold back antibiotics for future use.
  • Do not share antibiotics or take those which belong to others.
  • Practice good health and hygiene to limit your chances of developing bacterial infections.

You can find further details about World Antibiotic Awareness Week, including information on how to protect yourself against antibiotic resistance on the NHS website. Whilst scientific breakthroughs like this are key for continuing our ability in the fight against disease and infection, it’s also important that we do our own bit too.