Those who overuse and misuse antibiotics help bacteria to become resistant. Antibiotic resistance is a major health problem in the world, including Europe. The latest data confirm that in the European Union, the number of patients infected by resistant bacteria  is increasing. To raise awareness of this matter and promote a more responsible use of antibiotics , the European Centre for Prevention and Disease Control (ECDC) has also organized the 2015 European Day of antibiotics which falls on November 18th.


In 2013, the consumption of antibiotics outside hospitals in the EU was 22.4 doses per 1,000 inhabitants, rising steadily since 2009. A percentage above the European average was Italy, where consumption of antibiotics has touched 28.6 doses , a slight increase compared to 2012 and every year more than the EU average.The country of least consumption is the Netherlands, while Greece is one in which the use of antiobitoics is the most impressive.


On the occasion of the European Day of Antibiotics, ECDC returns to the alarming problem of bacteria resistance, whose level has risen in recent years. For example, the bacterium Klebsiella pneumoniae is responsible for infections of the urinary tract and respiratory system, among other things. The level of resistance to major antibiotics used for therapy rose from 15% to 21% in three years, from 2010 to 2013. A similar trend also rose for E. coli, which is a leading cause of bloodstream infections.


(For further information, click here: Gonorrhea: England with epidemic strain resistant to antibiotics)



What happens when an antibiotic is misused?

“When not needed,” simply said by ECDC. For example, in most cases of colds and flu that are caused by viruses, against which antibiotics can do nothing or when an antibiotic is used in an “incorrect” way, that is, not respecting the therapeutic indications that are given by a doctor, then –continues the ECDC- for example, shortening the duration of treatment or reducing the dose may be necessary.



Why is antibiotic resistance a problem?

“There are currently infections, particularly in the hospital, that are caused by multiresistant germs or virtually resistant to almost all or in some cases, to all potentially active antibiotics. It is clear that in these case, control of the infection becomes very difficult, “replies Dr. Paola Morelli, Physician on Infectious Disease at Humanitas Hospital.


(For further information, click here: Drug resistance: the dangers of antibiotic overuse)



Why does bacteria become resistant and to what extent does the misuse of drugs increase resistance levels?

“Bacteria become resistant mainly because of two reasons: acquisition of genomic resistance, which is a process difficult to control, or selective pressure, which is linked to the use of antibiotics. In some cases, the improper use ofantibiotics is associated with a suboptimal control of the infectious process with the risk of inducing the selection of resistant strains. ”


(For further information, click here: Antibiotics and digestion: cautious abuse)


How antibiotics can be used in a responsible way?

“Antibiotics should be used only when necessary. They should be used if possible molecules with antibacterial spectrum are limited and targeted to microbial isolation. Moreover, they should be used for a limited period.”