Inappropriate prescribing of antibiotics is commonplace in the United States, a new study has found. According to the analysis of prescription data for 19.2 million people by researchers from Northwestern University in Chicago, IL; the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor; and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, MA, 23.2% of all antibiotic prescriptions written in 2016 were inappropriate. The findings of the research published in the British Medical Journal reveal that colds, coughs, and chest infections – all of which are usually caused by viruses - were the top conditions that antibiotics were inappropriately prescribed. Antibiotics are only effective when used to fight illnesses caused by bacteria, not viruses. The problem with taking antibiotics inappropriately is that it can lead to antibiotic resistance. This is where bacteria are able to survive drugs that once killed them. Antibiotic resistance is a growing problem. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) approx. 2 million people in the US every year acquire antibiotic resistant infections. As a result, more than 23,000 die. Speaking about the findings of the research, lead author Kao-Ping Chua, M.D., Ph.D., said “Antibiotic overuse is still rampant and affects an enormous number of patients. “Despite decades of quality improvement and educational initiatives, providers are still writing antibiotic prescriptions for illnesses that would get better on their own.”
Children are more prone to catching colds than adults. In fact, kids get around six to eight colds a year – that’s twice as many as adults. But what are the best remedies for youngsters with a common cold? Well, according to a review of over-the-counter treatments published in The BMJ, there’s little evidence that any of them work, and some, like decongestants, could actually do more harm than good. That’s because decongestants and combination drugs that contain decongestants can cause drowsiness, headaches, insomnia and upset stomach. Furthermore, if they are given to children under the age of 2, they can cause serious complications such as convulsions and rapid heart rate. In reality, there is no cure for the common cold. While it can cause irritating and uncomfortable symptoms, including a sore throat, cough, congestion, sneezing and a raised temperature, after a week or so, they usually go away on their own. So what’s the answer? Saline nasal washes, says Dr Rahul Chodhari, consultant paediatrician and spokesman for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health. They can be applied several times a day, with zero side effects, and help to clear mucus from the nasal cavity, reducing congestion. Dr Chodhari advises that cough syrups are not recommended for children because they stop them coughing up mucus and getting rid of it. Also, because antibiotics only work to combat bacterial infections, they do nothing to relieve colds.
Coughs can be extremely unpleasant and leave many people in search of fast relief. But newly proposed guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and Public Health England (PHE) in the UK say honey and over-the-counter medicines should always be the first port of call. In fact, the new guidelines go as far as to say antibiotics should only be prescribed by doctors on rare occasions, as they actually do little to alleviate symptoms. Most of the time, within two to three weeks, a cough will clear up on its own. The new recommendations for doctors are designed to tackle the growing problem of antibiotic resistance, which is making some infections harder to treat and leading to the emergence of drug-resistant superbugs. Patients are being advised to have hot drinks with honey and ginger, as well as cough medicines containing pelargonium, guaifenesin or dextromethorphan and wait and see if their symptoms improve before going to see their doctor. The bottom line is most coughs are caused by viruses, so antibiotics actually have little to no effect whatsoever. Dr Susan Hopkins, a deputy director at PHE, said: “Antibiotic resistance is a huge problem, and we need to take action now to reduce antibiotic use... “These new guidelines will support GPs to reduce antibiotic prescriptions and we encourage patients to take their GP's advice about self-care.” [Related reading: New Superbug-killing antibiotics found in soil]
Cranberry juice has long been used by people to provide relief from and even treat urine infections. But new draft guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) say there is not enough good evidence, despite people’s experiences, to recommend it as a treatment. Even though some studies have concluded that cranberry juice may be beneficial for people with urine infections, NICE says people should drink plenty of water or fluids and take painkillers instead. Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are caused by bacteria, which is why some people may be prescribed antibiotics to treat them, but these drugs are not always necessary. NICE says that when antibiotics are required, the shortest course possible should be prescribed to reduce the risk of antimicrobial resistance. Prof Mark Baker, director for the centre of guidelines at NICE, said: "We recognise that the majority of UTIs will require antibiotic treatment, but we need to be smarter with our use of these medicines. "Our new guidance will help healthcare professionals to optimise their use of antibiotics. "This will help to protect these vital medicines and ensure that no one experiences side effects from a treatment they do not need."
Last month, we reported how scientists in the US had found superbug-killing antibiotics in soil. While that might have seemed an unlikely place to find something that has the potential to save countless lives, where scientists have now discovered powerful proteins capable of fighting superbugs is even stranger. Back in 2010, Australian scientists found that platypus milk contains a potent protein which is able to fight superbugs. As if Platypuses weren’t weird enough, what with their duck's beaks, venomous feet and the fact they’re mammals that lay eggs, their potentially beneficial milk only adds to their uniqueness. While it’s been years since scientists made the discovery, it’s only now that they understand why platypus milk is so good at fighting superbugs. Being monotremes, platypuses lay eggs and produce milk. However, they don’t have nipples and instead secrete milk through pores along their stomachs. It is this strange feeding system that is thought to give platypus milk its antibacterial properties, according to scientists. Dr Janet Newman, from Australia's national science agency CSIRO, said: “Platypus are such weird animals that it would make sense for them to have weird biochemistry.” While mammal milk is usually secreted via the animal’s nipples and remains sterile, platypus milk is decidedly dirtier. That’s why scientists think it contains unique antibacterial properties. Scientists hope the milk can be used to develop new antibiotics that can help fight superbugs.
Scientists in the United States have found a new family of antibiotics living in soil and early tests show they could be effective in killing several bacterial diseases that have become resistant to existing antibiotic treatments. The compounds, called malacidins, have been shown to kill the superbug MRSA, which is caused by a type of staph bacteria that has become resistant to many of the traditional antibiotics used to treat such infections. Experts say the finding holds a huge amount of promise in the global fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria. At present, they are estimated to kill around 700,000 people every year. Discovering new antibiotics in soil isn’t actually that rare. At any one time dirt is teeming with millions of different micro-organisms which produce an abundance of potentially therapeutic compounds, including new antibiotics. A team at New York's Rockefeller University, led by Dr Sean Brady, has been busy unearthing them using a gene sequencing technique to analyse soil samples taken from all over the US. The team had a hunch that malacidins might be important when they found them in many of the soil samples they analysed. Despite the potentially ground-breaking importance of the discovery, Dr Brady stressed there’s still a long way to go, saying: "It is impossible to say when, or even if, an early stage antibiotic discovery like the malacidins will proceed to the clinic. It is a long, arduous road from the initial discovery of an antibiotic to a clinically used entity."
Have you ever turned to Dr Google when you’ve been feeling under the weather? If you have, you’re not alone. Nowadays, tons of people research symptoms they’re experiencing on the world’s largest search engine. But while many of these searches confirm that the searcher is suffering from a common cold, others can see a simple sore throat query spiral off into diagnosing all sorts of rare conditions. It’s a reality that makes Googling health conditions both convenient and potentially terrifying. As the year draws to a close, the team at Google Trends has released information on the most popular heath questions people in the UK asked the search engine in 2017. Topping the list is the rather generic “why do I feel sick?” search. That’s followed by “why am I always tired?” and “what is cancer?” Have you ever heard of lupus? It seems many people have and want to know more about it, as “what is lupus?” is fourth on the list. This could be because pop icon Selena Gomez was diagnosed with lupus in 2015 and underwent surgery for the condition over the summer. Lupus is an autoimmune disease that causes sufferers to feel fatigued, have swollen or painful joints, and skin irritation or rashes. Because lupus is an autoimmune disease it is not contagious. More information about lupus, including warning signs, can be found on the NHS website. The final question completing the top five is “what is sepsis?” Sepsis is a life-threatening condition that can be triggered by an infection and leads to the body attacking its own organs and tissues. Sepsis can be treated with antibiotics if it is caught early enough and hasn’t already damaged any vital organs. More information about sepsis, including warning signs, can be found on the NHS website.
According to health officials at Public Health England, more patients should be advised to go home and get some rest, rather than be prescribed antibiotics. In fact, the health body says that up to a fifth of antibiotic prescriptions are unnecessary and many conditions get better on their own. Overusing antibiotics runs the risk of bugs developing an immunity to certain drugs and developing into so-called superbugs in the future, which cannot be treated with current medicines. While antibiotics are, of course, vital for treating sepsis, pneumonia, bacterial meningitis and other severe infections, they are not essential for every illness. For example, common coughs and bronchitis can take up to three weeks to clear on their own and antibiotics only reduce that timeframe by literally a few days. Prof Paul Cosford, medical director at PHE, told the BBC: "We don't often need antibiotics for common conditions. "The majority of us will get infections from time to time and will recover because of our own immunity." He said patients should not go to their doctor "expecting an antibiotic". So don’t be surprised if your doctor isn’t quick to prescribe you antibiotics the next time you’ve got a cough or a cold. They will actually be doing you a favour in the long-run and helping to prevent the rise of drug-resistant superbugs that we all should be concerned about.
A new meningitis test that can provide results within 60 minutes, expediting diagnoses and saving more lives, has started to be used by an A&E department in a hospital in Northern Ireland. Researchers say that the new test will allow doctors at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children to treat patients fast and accurately, rather than "just in case". A positive meningitis diagnosis can take up to two days, yet infections can overwhelm a person’s body and kill in just hours, which is why fast treatment is so crucial. Furthermore, symptoms may not be obvious until it is too late. Doctors currently have to rely on clinical judging to decide whether antibiotics should be urgently administered and tend to err on the side caution, meaning some patients receive drugs that they don’t necessarily need. The rapid LAMP (Loop Mediated Isothermal Amplification) test on blood, spinal fluid or nasal swab samples will be trialled over a two-year period at the hospital and used to help doctors see if their clinical hunches are correct. Antibiotics will also still be used during the pilot as an extra precaution when doctors determine they are needed. Researcher Dr Tom Waterfield from Queen's University, Belfast, said the LAMP test could also help spot less obvious cases that might otherwise slip through the net. "With the best will in the world you can still miss cases if a child looks quite well and you think it is viral rather than bacterial. "The test could also provide reassurance earlier to anxious parents that their sick child is getting the right treatment. Two days is a long time to wait for a confirmed diagnosis".
An opinion piece that was recently published in the BMJ has triggered a debate about whether the guidelines for antibiotics should be updated. Advice from doctors has always been that people should continue taking a course of antibiotics until they are all gone, even if they started feeling better a few days in. But now, writing in the BMJ, a team of researchers from across England argues there is not enough evidence to support the idea that stopping a course of antibiotics early encourages antibiotic resistance. In fact, they say that using antibiotics for longer than necessary could increase the chances of antibiotic resistance occurring. Prof Martin Llewelyn, from the Brighton and Sussex Medical School, together with colleagues, says that more research is needed so that antibiotic prescriptions can be given that are tailored to the infection and the person. However, many experts have come out urging people not to change their attitudes towards antibiotics in light of one study. Prof Helen Stokes-Lampard, leader of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said that just because a person’s symptoms had improved it did not necessarily mean the infection had been completely eradicated. "It's important that patients have clear messages, and the mantra to always take the full course of antibiotics is well known - changing this will simply confuse people."
Scientists in the United States have re-engineered a crucial antibiotic in the hope that it will be able to wipe out some of the world’s most deadly superbugs. According to the PNAS journal, the new version of vancomycin is a thousand times more potent than the old drug and fights bacteria in three different ways, making it much more difficult for bugs to dodge. Despite the fact it hasn’t been tested on animals or people yet, the Scripps Research Institute team behind the drug hope it will be ready for use within five years if it passes more tests. The breakthrough is an important one as many experts have already warned we are on the verge of an “antibiotic Armageddon”, which could see some infections become untreatable with current drugs. One such hard-to-treat infection is vancomycin-resistant enterococci or VRE. While some antibiotics do work against it, 60-year-old drug vancomycin is now powerless. That’s one of the reasons the team from Scripps set out to boost its potency and killing ability. Prof Nigel Brown of the Microbiology Society said: "This development could be hugely important. "Vancomycin is an antibiotic of last resort against some serious infections. There has been great concern that resistance has been emerging."
People should be cautious when purchasing medications online after an investigation uncovered "widespread failings" at some Internet-based providers, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has said. The independent regulator of health and social care in England inspected 11 internet prescription services in the country and found some "potentially presenting a significant risk to patients". Despite some providers being well-run, others were cutting corners, according to the CQC investigation. For example, two online providers - Treated.com and MD Direct - did little or no checking of patients' identities. In addition, they were guilty of inadequate prescribing and gave no assurances that the clinicians working behind the scenes had the qualifications or relevant skills for the roles they were performing. Talking to BBC Radio 5 Live, Prof Steve Field, the CQC's chief inspector of general practice, said: ""Some of these websites prescribed unlicensed medicines and - even more worryingly - medicines for diabetes, Parkinson's disease, heart disease and Lithium for bipolar disorder." The CQC has now drawn up a set of clear standards for online pharmacies. Going forward, all Internet-based providers must: verify that a patient is who they say they are, such as through a Skype check obtain a comprehensive and up-to-date medical history ensure patients truly understand what medicines they are being given seek permission to contact a patient's GP One of the biggest problems cited with antibiotics being sold online is that some people treat them like sweets. More discipline is needed if we are to prevent the so-called antibiotic apocalypse - where bacteria become resistant to more and more drugs - from happening.
The fight against superbugs could have a new ally in predatory bacteria, according to researchers in the UK. Animal studies, the results of which were published in the journal Current Biology, showed that an injection of Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus acted like a "living antibiotic" to help clear an otherwise lethal infection. The studies also showed that there would be no side effects. Experts said the "unusual" approach should not be overlooked. Bdellovibrio is a fast-swimming bacterium that finds its way inside other bacteria and eats their insides, causing it to swell in size. Once it has finished gorging, Bdellovibrio replicates and bursts out of its now dead host. The research teams from Imperial College London and the University of Nottingham tested to see what impact Bdellovibrio would have on Shigella, a common cause of food poisoning which more than a million people each year die from. Their laboratory tests showed that Bdellovibrio devastated the population of superbug Shigella 4,000-fold. Commenting on the research, Dr Serge Mostowy, from Imperial College London, said: "It is definitely a creative approach and what is special is the inability of the host to develop resistance." Scientists continue to look for alternatives to antibiotics because of the growing levels of bacteria that are becoming resistant to them and to reduce our over reliance on them.
Frequently Asked Questions (GENERAL) · Why should I come to France for an operation? W.H.O ranked the French health system no. 1 in the world. In France you can find elite doctors who are some of the best at their practice, for an affordable rate: Experienced and world-renowned surgeons Clinics carefully selected for their state-of-the-art technologies and the best level of care and safety Highly-personalised services Complete and appropriate medical treatment An excellent recovery environment Short waiting times: 7 weeks on average (as of validation of your file) The best value for money In addition there is the fact that France is the most visited country in the world. Why not use your recovery period to spend time with your family to discover France and all its richness: culture, food, architecture, etc. · Why should I put my trust in France-Surgery as opposed to than another facilitator? France-Surgery has more than 20 years of expertise in the French and international medical industry. These decades of experience allows us to keep contact with the best professionals and select only the most suitable health professionals, for the most precise medical or surgical treatments. We have received the Award for Best Medical Travel Agency in London, April 2015 and are the only certified medical facilitators in France. At France-Surgery all your requests will be dealt with professionally for your peace of mind and that of your loved ones. We subscribe to the rules of best practice enforced for medical tourism, including the selection of partners accredited by the French Department of Health: Clinics and Hospitals offering the highest level of security, evaluated and accredited by the French National Authority for Health (HAS), Elite surgeons and doctors are members of the French Medical Association (Ordre National des Médecins). They participate in scientific development of their specific medical fields which are subject of scientific publications both in France and abroad. France-Surgery is an all-inclusive, one-stop service, our services include: Personalized information and professional advice to help you in making your decision Administrative procedure support Negotiation of preferential rates with clinics and partners Putting you in direct contact with the clinic and the specialist Support and assistance throughout your stay (clinic and post-operative care) from collection on arrival and drop-off Management of transfers, visits, accommodation, catering for patients and their loved ones Do all the doctors within France-Surgery’s network work on the same campus? France-Surgery’s extended medical network spans 120 clinics and hospitals all over France. France-Surgery will put you in direct contact with any of our 1500 recommended specialists and surgeons. It is the patient who usually gets to choose which French city would please them most. All hospitals within our network are renowned for their excellence. Partners within our network are in located dynamic cities that also have a wealth of culture and activity - including, Toulon, Bordeaux, Monaco, Béziers, Paris, Lyon, Toulouse and Marseille. What types of license and credentials do your doctors have? Our team is composed of several reputable physicians and healthcare professionals with over 20 years of experience in the French medical sector. Aside from the obligatory and rigorously strict national qualifications, France Surgery recommended surgeons and doctors are elite members of the French Medical Association (Ordre National des Médecins). They participate in scientific development of their specific medical fields, which are the subject of scientific publications both in France and abroad. Many of our doctors teach their peers at hospitals around the globe (eg. In USA, India, the UK) the newest techniques which have been developed within their specific field. What training and licensing do French nurses, pharmacists, imaging technicians and lab technicians receive? French nurses, pharmacists, imaging technicians and lab technicians of go through rigorous, high quality training in order to pass examinations so as to obtain licenses to practice in France. Nurses are re-certified every few years. Furthermore, intensive care nurses must receive higher training in specialized areas. What is the rate of infection in France? Out of the millions of patients treated at French hospitals each year, the rate of infection is less than 7%. This very low rate is because there is an extremely strict and thorough national infection control programme, which is re-evaluated every 4 years; in order to reduce hospital acquired infections in France. Under French law, clinics and hospitals have to collect data for this 4 yearly evaluation, data that includes (but is not limited to): - Yearly consumption of antiseptic hand-wash products for 1000 hospital days, - Incidence rates of methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus, - Incidence rates of surgical site infections, - Monitoring antibiotic consumption. This information is then required by law to be made available to the public. The objective is to constantly strengthen and monitor infection control and to improve the quality of care provided in health care institutions. How do the international patients communicate with doctors and medical staff? English is widely spoken by most of the doctors within our network. The France Surgery team can also provide French - English (and vice versa) interpretation both linguistically and of documents in situations where it is necessary. How do I begin / make an appointment? If you are interested in our offer you can contact France-Surgery directly at (+33) 953 02 03 09 to make an appointment or email us to request a free quotation. You can also visit our website at www.france-surgery.com where you can then create your medical file in a secure area. This is where where we invite you to specify your pathology and you can upload your medical history and fill in the pre-diagnostic questionnaire intended for the surgeon or doctor on this highly secure eHealth platform. Then you will be invited to pay the €50 administrative charges, which will be directly credited to your travel account. The eHealth platform secure area will allow: You to transmit your medical file directly to your doctor The surgeon or doctor can contact you directly You can discuss with your doctor or surgeon, the diagnosis and the organization of your future treatment. When you fly back home, you have the ability to send X-rays or other examination documents, for a more thorough post-surgery follow-up. The definitive cost of your treatment will be determined by the healthcare team, after the analysis of your medical file and the first meeting by telephone or videoconference. How would you recommend the most suitable doctor? If you request it, we can make a recommendation for you based on your pathology, the medical information you provide us, your desired city, and the appointment date. Otherwise we will send you profiles of doctors of which you can choose. · How do I organize my stay? Once your medical file has been validated, the France-Surgery team will take over, through your secure area, to assist you in organizing your trip: administrative assistance, travel bookings, etc. Our team will contact you to discuss the organization of your travel as well as for the persons accompanying you, and will make proposals corresponding to your wishes and your budget. All your tickets, vouchers, reservations, information, etc. will be sent via this area. Does France-Surgery make accommodations for the patient’s family members or friends etc.? Should you and your loved ones consider staying at a near-by hotel, France-Surgery would be happy to help you with reservations at hotels near to your clinic. Generally (for a small fee) one relative may accompany a patient in the single rooms at the hospital. * It is highly recommend that patients travel with a family member or loved one with whom they are comfortable sharing a high level of privacy. * Are there fun activities we may participate in outside of the hospital stays and appointments? Based on the type of surgery you have received, your interests and your doctor’s prescription, France-Surgery can help you and your accompanying loved ones find cultural activities (festivals, museums etc) that are available in the city of your surgery. Other wise, each city in France has its own official website. For suggestions of activities happening in your city at the time of your surgery, you may also visit your cities website (eg. Cannes.com), Which will detail the calendar of events happening in that specific city all year. · How is the post-operative follow-up organized? After your procedure and during the recovery period in France, your surgeon may wish to see you again (once or twice) for post-operative consultations. During this time, a nurse will provide necessary care, e.g. changing dressings, medications, etc. directly at the hotel where you may be recovering. When you return home, your surgeon will remain in contact with you by telephone if necessary, and may even contact your general practitioner to make sure your recovery is going well. Two new check-ups by your French surgeon will take place at the 2-month mark and at the 6-month mark, by exchanging of X-rays/Images and other examinations through your secure area on the France-Surgery’s eHealth platform (login to your account at france-surgery.com) Should the recovery be unsatisfactory, the surgeon will indicate to you the procedure to follow, and will consider a possible return for another procedure. In this case, all healthcare costs (consultation and procedure by the surgeon as well as the recovery stay) will be at the expense of the surgeon and clinic. Transport expenses remain the responsibility of the patient. Do you have a pick-up service and drop off service for the airport? Yes! Based on the patient plan you have selected, France-Surgery can pick you up at the airport, and at the end of your trip ensure your safe and timely arrival at the airport for your flight. Please provide us with your flight arrival time and patient information, prior to your travel date. Additional service charges may apply. Where is France-Surgery located and what is nearby? Our offices are located in Toulouse (south-west) France, which has the affectionate nickname ‘la ville rose’ (the pink city) due to the architecture made of pinkish bricks. Toulouse is conveniently located just a few hours drive from Spain and our international airport provides easy direct access to many major cities including London, Paris, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Brussels and Munich. Toulouse is a stop on the trans-European network of trains, so you can also easily hop on the train for a more scenic trip to any of these cities. Within walking distance of Toulouse city-centre are many of the most popular hotels, embassies, restaurants and major shopping destinations. For map information click here. Does France-Surgery offer cost estimates? Yes, simply to click the "free quote" icon and fill in the questionnaire at www.france-surgery.com to request a quote and inquire about treatment costs. The total in-patient and out-patient cost estimate includes surgical fees, doctor’s fees, lab tests, medicine, and room fees. It also includes (based on the patient plan you have selected) the assistance of France-Surgery. We assist patients with issues such as translation services (both documents and linguistic), transportation logistics, hotel stays, arranging post-surgery follow-ups by nurses at your hotel, post-surgery comfort packs to help with long flights home, guarantees that you can stay in touch with your French doctor even after you arrive back to your home country. Can my medical costs be covered? It all depends on the health system of your country. If you are from a country within the European Union, after your treatment stay, you will be given an invoice in English. When you return home, this invoice must be sent to the health care received abroad form that has been duly filled in – this form is available from your health insurance fund – which you send to your insurance company to obtain reimbursement for the health care. France-Surgery International tel. no.: +33 953 02 03 09 E-mail: email@example.com · Can I pay in several installments? To make your trip easier, France-Surgery allows payment in 3 installments at no additional charge. · What are the administrative procedures to follow? For EU citizens – http://europa.eu/index_fr.htm For non-EU citizens – http://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/fr/ We can also support you in the entire administrative process. What happens should I decide to cancel my procedure? You have the right to change your mind! If you decide to cancel or postpone your trip, you have up to 15 days in relation to your arrival date, to modify or cancel without charge. After this 15-day period, 100% of the paid amounts will be retained due to late cancellation. What is the legal recourse to take should something happen during my medical treatment? France Surgery is a medical facilitator; we assist with medical travel and accommodation plans. We furnish information about the best health specialists, hospitals and clinics for specific pathologies and conditions. We do not provide medical services ourselves. Although we use a reasonable level of skill and professionalism in choosing our medical network, France Surgery cannot be held responsible for any errors of the doctors, hospitals / clinics (third parties). In case of medical misconduct by any member of a medical team, the patient is directed to contact the third parties directly. By law all French doctors and clinics have to publicly list the details of their insurance (the number etc should be attached to all invoices). Should something happen during surgery, patients should make note of the insurance contact details of the medical professional or institution. Disclaimer: In terms of liability the medical facilitator (France Surgery) is not legally responsible for the actions of the medical staff.
By 2050, superbugs will kill someone every three seconds unless the world acts now. That's the stark warning to come out of a highly-influential new report from the UK. According to the British government-commissioned review, medicine risks "being cast back into the dark ages", and only billions of dollars of investment can save the world from these so-called "superbugs". The global review sets out a plan to prevent this from happening, and calls for a massive campaign to revolutionise the way in which people use antibiotics. At present, the problem is two-fold: we are not developing enough new antibiotics and we are currently misusing the ones we do have. Since mid-2014, when the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance started, more than one million people have died from infections that are resistant to drugs. What's more worrying is that the review predicts that the situation will only get worse, with 10 million people per year predicted to die from resistant infections by 2050. Jim O'Neill, the economist who led the review, said: "If we don't do something, we're heading towards a world where there will be no antibiotics available to treat people who need them." Last year, British Prime Minister David Cameron asked O'Neill to conduct a full review of the problem and suggest ways to combat it. O'Neill's final report - which you can access here - identifies 10 areas that require action from world leaders. Infections that shouldn't be treated with antibiotics include: colds, flu, most coughs and bronchitis, some sore throats, many sinus infections and many ear infections.
When all other antibiotics fail, doctors resort to colistin. This important drug has been somewhat of a safety net in medicine over the years, but that could all be about to change now that bacteria that can resist it have been found in the UK. It’s a discovery that adds further weight to the warning from scientists that we are on the cusp of a post-antibiotic era, especially as similar resistance was found in China just last month. Doctors in the UK thought they had around three years before colistin-resistant bacteria spread from China to the UK, but checks carried out by Public Health England and the Animal and Plant Health Agency have now confirmed similar resistance on three farms and even in some human infections. Public Health England analysed all of the 24,000 bacteria samples it keeps on record and found that 15 of them, including some Salmonella and E. coli samples, were resistant to colistin. In separate tests, the Animal and Plant Health Agency found that colistin-resistant bacteria on three pig farms in the UK. While the discoveries actually aren’t that surprising, especially for scientists, they do highlight how very real the threat of untreatable infections is. The biggest concern is that the resistance to colistin will now find its way into other superbugs, which could make treating them virtually impossible. Professor Alan Johnson, from Public Health England, said: "Our assessment is that the public health risk posed by this gene is currently considered very low, but is subject to ongoing review as more information becomes available. "The organisms identified can be killed by cooking your food properly and all the bacteria we identified with this gene were responsive to other antibiotics, called carbapenems. "We will monitor this closely, and will provide any further public advice as needed."
Doctors say that a “ground-breaking” cystic fibrosis therapy could dramatically improve the quality of life for sufferers of the condition. Patients usually die before they reach the age of 40 as they’re left prone to infection from the mucus that clogs and damages their lungs. But now, a major clinical trial on some 1,108 patients, the results of which were published in the New England Journal of Medicine, revealed that a combination of drugs had the ability to bypass the genetic errors that caused the condition and increase life expectancy as a result. In the UK alone, one in every 2,500 babies are born with cystic fibrosis and the Cystic Fibrosis Trust believes the new findings could “improve the lives of many”. A genetic condition, the DNA of cystic fibrosis sufferers contains an error which means the individual is unable to control salt and water levels in their lungs. A thick mucus forms and inexorably damages the lungs. Antibiotics have been used historically to prevent infection, but nothing has been developed to address the underlying problem for most sufferers. Lumacaftor and ivacaftor are the two drugs which when combined, improved the lung function of those patients that received them over the course of a 24-week trial. It was also reported that patients gained weight during the trial, something which was attributed to the mucus lining in the gut being affected too. Professor Stuart Elborn, who headed up the Queen’s University, Belfast part of the trial, said: “It is not a cure, but it is as remarkable and effective a drug as I have seen in my lifetime.” Photo credits: Discover magazine, The New York Time Magazine
When it comes to deciphering which bug is responsible for an infection, doctors have historically faced many challenges. While routine tests are available, they can sometimes take days to definitively identify the exact bug and usually involve growing cultures in a laboratory. But now, a new blood test has been developed that can determine whether an infection is being caused by bacteria or a virus and the results are available within two hours. Despite still being at a laboratory stage, the potential of the new test has got independent experts excited and if it comes to fruition, it could help tackle a very serious problem: the over-reliance on antibiotics. MeMed worked in collaboration with several teams of scientists from Israel to develop the test and it proved successful - i.e. it correctly identified the cause of an infection – in the majority of some 300 tests cases. The new test works by recognising the protein patterns triggered by viruses and bacteria, but isn’t being seen as a replacement for the traditional role of a physician and their judgement. Virus expert Professor Jonathan Ball from Nottingham University said: "The work addresses a really serious problem. Being able to identify a possible infection early on and then to be able to differentiate between a possible viral or bacterial cause, is important.”
According to a biennial report into healthcare across Europe, France remains in very good shape. It has the lowest stroke and heart attack death rates on the continent and was one of the few countries to increase healthcare spending in 2014. The report, which also analysed non-EU countries, such as Switzerland, Norway and Iceland, outlined many areas where France is leading the field. Average life expectancy in France is an impressive 82.1 years and it also boasts just 86 heart attack deaths per 100,000 people. Compare this to the 184 that occur in the UK and you can see how impressive France’s figures are. France is also a big spender when it comes to hospital expenses – 38% of the total healthcare budget (4.4% of GDP). This comes at a time when most European countries are trying to cut their healthcare spending. France increased its own by 0.8%. Finally, France is a big spender on antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals – 469 euros per head compared to an average of 350 euros across the rest of Europe. The Health at a Glance – Europe 2014 report further underlines the great healthcare system we have here in France. So why not contact us today and find out how we can help you take advantage of the fantastic healthcare facilities here in France.
PAEDIATRIC ENT Is your child in need of ENT surgery? If so, France Surgery could be the healthcare partner that you’ve been looking for. Read on to find out more about the range of ENT procedures available in France – all of which are of the highest-quality, affordably priced and have little to no waiting times. France Surgery can help facilitate the following paediatric procedures: Adenoidectomy An adenoidectomy is a surgical procedure that is performed to remove the adenoids, which are a mass of lymphoid tissue situated where the back of the nose meets the throat. The adenoids can become enlarged and infected which can lead to obstructed breathing and sleep apnea. Tonsillectomy Similar in nature to an adenoidectomy, a tonsillectomy is performed to remove a child’s tonsils. Like the adenoids, the tonsils are part of the lymphoid tissue located at the back of the throat. A child may experience bouts of tonsillitis, which leads to enlarged and painful tonsils that often need antibiotic treatment. However, your child’s doctor may recommend a tonsillectomy if these infections are frequent. Grommet Insertion Children suffering from glue ear may need grommets inserted to resolve the condition. A grommet is a small tube which is inserted into the child’s ear through a cut in the eardrum and is designed to drain away fluid and maintain air pressure. The procedure itself only takes around 15 minutes, so your child should be able to go home the very same day. Cysts and congenital fistulas of the face and neck Some children are born with cysts and/or fistulas on their faces and/or necks. Congenital fistulas are small holes that are usually located in front of the ear or on the neck. Cysts are swollen areas situated in the middle or side of the neck. Both cysts and fistulas can lead to problems with infection and surgery is often required to prevent further complications going forward. Choanal Atresia Choanal atresia is a condition whereby the back of the nasal passage is blocked by bone or soft tissue. It is present at birth and can either be unilateral (just one side) or bilateral (both sides). Surgery is inevitably needed to open the nasal passage, thus allowing the child to breathe easier. Cleft Palate Children born with cleft palates are particularly susceptible to middle ear infections and so corrective surgery is often necessary. This usually consists of inserting tubes into the child’s ear to drain excess fluid and reduce the risk of infection. Our surgical partners are part of the Cleft Palate Competence Centre of Toulouse. Ear Surgery We can facilitate a number of different ear surgeries for your child here in France, including: Surgery for chronic otitis Middle ear implants and bone-anchored hearing aids Surgery for congenitally prominent ears (otoplasty) Functional and reparative surgery of ear malformations Many of the procedures outlined above can be undergone on an outpatient basis, so contact us today for more detailed information on a particular surgery. When it comes to the health of your children, you can never be too careful. They may be suffering with conditions that need urgent attention and the long waiting times in some healthcare systems are not an option. Furthermore, you want to be sure that the medical professionals responsible for your children’s welfare are world-class and operating within a high-quality healthcare system. For these reasons, you should look no further than France and the excellent level of healthcare that it offers – even to international patients. Let France Surgery facilitate your child’s ENT surgery today.