WORDS LIM TECK CHOON
PROFESSOR CHIN BEEK YOKE
School of Health Sciences
International Medical University (IMU)
Superbug is a term coined to describe multi-drug resistant bacteria.
Medications that are usually effective on them, such as antibiotics, just don’t work as effectively anymore. “These are bacteria that circumvent the effects of antibiotics and proliferate or multiply uncontrollably in the host,” explains Professor Chin Beek Yoke.
EVERY BACTERIAL SPECIES CAN BE A SUPERBUG
Any species of bacteria can develop a resistance to antibiotics and become a superbug.
“Bacteria are very smart. They will mutate to overcome antibiotics. Once bacteria has the resistance gene in them, they can duplicate and combine with different species of bacteria. That’s how bacteria propagate their multi-drug resistance in nature,” Prof Chin shares.
WE HAVE A ROLE IN CREATING SUPERBUGS
According to Prof Chin, a key reason why superbugs are prevalent is the unnecessary and over-prescription of antibiotics.
GOOD HABITS TO ADOPT
IMPROPER DISPOSAL OF ANTIBIOTICS MAY ALSO PLAY A ROLE
People tend to dispose of antibiotics incorrectly, and this can be a problem.
“We pour it down the drain, or throw it into the trash. The excess antibiotics then get into our ecosystem, in the soil, or may end up in rivers and water bodies,” says Prof Chin.
GOOD HABIT TO ADOPT
|The correct way to dispose of the extra antibiotics is to bring them to your nearest pharmacy. Many pharmacies are equipped to dispose of extra medicines in the appropriate manner.|
THEN THERE’S THE ISSUE OF ANTIBIOTICS IN ANIMAL AND FISH FEED…
Another cause is the use of antibiotics in feed for domestic animals or fish. When humans consume the meat from these animals and fish, they also consume the residual antibiotics present in these products.
This unintended consumption of antibiotics may modify the bacterial environment in our bodies and render us susceptible to future bacterial infections.
GOOD HABIT TO ADOPT
|Purchase foods that are obtained from sources that are free of antibiotics.|
HOW TO MINIMIZE POSSIBLE CONTACT WITH SUPERBUGS
Multidrug resistant bacteria are everywhere, but we can do a few things to reduce coming in contact with them.
PRACTICE GOOD HYGIENE
DON’T PANIC TOO MUCH ABOUT COMING IN CONTACT WITH SUPERBUGS, HOWEVER!
Prof Chin explains that having them on your skin alone doesn’t mean that you will become infected and suffer.
“Your skin is a very good protective organ,” she says. “Bacteria or pathogens can only enter when there is a cut. So, if you don’t have a cut or laceration, you will be fine. Just make sure to wash your hands and feet or any exposed areas.”
The same goes for the times when you ingest bacteria. “You will usually have enough stomach acid to kill these superbugs, and most of the time you have enough innate immune cells in your body to fight them off,” she explains.
However, people with health conditions that weaken their immune system should take precautions to reduce their odds of contracting bacterial infections; they should consult their doctor on the best ways to do this.