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Make our future healthier—without abusing antibiotics

Antibiotic overuse is leading to resilient and dangerous 'superbugs'

Published: July 02, 2015 06:00 AM

Consumer Reports has always been at the forefront of helping to identify and address emerging threats to public health. That’s why, this month, we begin a three-part examination of the global crisis of antibiotic resistance, what we know, how it affects you, and what can be done about it.

We strongly believe that when you get really sick, the drugs your doctor prescribes should work, and that if you go to the hospital, you shouldn’t get a life-threatening infection. But the widespread misuse of antibiotics in human medicine and food-animal production is threatening our health and safety.

This first report, “The Rise of Superbugs,” examines how the unrestrained use of antibiotics has spread bacterial strains, such as C. difficile and MRSA, which are difficult to treat and sicken at least 2.25 million Americans a year, killing 37,000. What’s worse, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that new strains could be even more contagious—and deadly.

At a recent White House Summit on the subject, I heard firsthand the challenges we face. They require us to act now to turn the tide. It’s critical that doctors dispense—and patients ask for—antibiotics more judiciously, that agricultural producers use drugs only on sick animals, and that hospitals disclose their antibiotic use and promptly report outbreaks related to resistant infections.

I hope this issue, and our subsequent reports, empower you to be a part of the solution and to help keep your families safe.

—Marta L. Tellado, President and CEO

Editor's Note:

This article also appeared in the August 2015 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.


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