Seasonal illnesses: don’t over-use antibiotics, public health campaign urges

Public Health England issues pre-winter advice to reduce risk of antibiotic resistance

Public Health England issues pre-winter advice to reduce risk of antibiotic resistance

Public Health England (PHE) is reprising its annual pre-winter campaign to persuade the public to listen to nurses' advice and only take antibiotics when necessary.

England's chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies said medicine could be put back to the Dark Ages because of the rise in some drug-resistant infections.

A report by PHE said bloodstream infections caused by microorganisms resistant to one or more key antibiotics have risen by 35% in just four years – from 12,250 in 2013 to 16,504 in 2017.

PHE has calculated that if antibiotics were to become ineffective then three million operations and cancer treatments in England every year could become life-threatening.

Some surgery and cancer treatments require antibiotics to prevent infections, including caesarean sections and hip or knee replacements.

Professor Davies warned: 'Without swift action to reduce infections, we are at risk of putting medicine back in the Dark Ages.'

'We need to preserve antibiotics for when we really need them'

Paul Cosford, medical director, Public Health England 

Research suggests 38% of people who seek medical care for a cough, flu or a throat, ear, sinus or chest infection expect to receive an antibiotic – even though they will usually recover without medication.

PHE's campaign, called Keep antibiotics working, reminds people that if they are feeling unwell, antibiotics are not necessarily the answer. It also urges people to adhere to health professionals' advice on antibiotic use.

PHE's medical director Paul Cosford said: 'We need to preserve antibiotics for when we really need them and we are calling on the public to join us in tackling antibiotic resistance by listening to your GP, pharmacist or nurse's advice and only taking antibiotics when necessary.'

Related material

PHE's Keep Antibiotics Working campaign

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