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Superbug Warning as Bacteria Resist Strong Alcohol Hand Sanitizers, Study Finds

If you visit a hospital or doctor’s office, you may find that many health professionals are using strong alcohol sanitizers to clean their hands. You may even have a bottle of alcohol-based sanitizer in your pocket or purse. These sanitizers work so well against infectious bacteria that they’re basically a mainstay everywhere — but, the Independent warns, some superbugs are increasingly becoming resistant to alcohol sanitizers, and this has health authorities worried. What’s worse is that this resistance is making certain superbugs even more resistant to medicine’s “last resort” antibiotic, vancomycin.

Talking about the threat of antibiotic-resistant superbugs is not meant to titillate you into a false fear. Rather, this is a dire situation. It’s REAL. And it’s growing. And worldwide, health officials are in a quandary as antibiotic resistance is a major public health threat. The most dire findings are that this is a man-made epidemic due primarily to the overuse of antibiotics in humans and animals.

Over the decades, antibiotics have been widely overprescribed for infections that don't respond well, or at all, to these drugs. Viral infections, for example, cannot be treated with antibiotics since they only kill bacteria, yet many of you have likely taken a course of antibiotics for an ear infection, or a bout of cold or flu. Antibiotics have also been routinely used for growth promotion purposes in livestock, and this practice continues in the U.S. to this day, despite the well-known risks. In the U.S. alone, antibiotic-resistant pathogens are conservatively estimated to cause at least 2 million infections annually, leading to 23,000 deaths each year. And, most alarming is that efforts to scale back both human and animal use of antibiotics have failed miserably.

Even if you’re not taking antibiotics yourself, you’re exposed to them in numerous ways, specifically in the foods you eat, from meats to fruits and vegetables to other medicines, including vaccines (if you take vaccines). The majority of supermarket meats, for example, are riddled with antibiotic residues.

Because we’re constantly bombarded with these examples, it’s become even more important for you, the consumer, to step to the plate and do your part to help stop the madness. At the store, refuse to purchase anything that isn’t organically grown or raised. Avoid antibacterial cleaning and personal care products, too. Wash your hands with warm water and plain soap.

And, limit your own use of antibiotics. Any time your doctor prescribes an antibiotic, ask if it’s absolutely necessary, and keep in mind that antibiotics do not work for viral infections.
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