January 5, 2010

Norway's Stand against MRSA

A fascinating article about the benefits of not using antibiotics.  Since Norway's a country of under five million people it's perhaps easier to take such a hard line stance against prescribing antibiotics... but if America would choose to, we could fight the use of antibiotics with as much strength as we do cigarettes. 

Forty years ago, a new spectrum of antibiotics enchanted public health officials, quickly quelling one infection after another. In wealthier countries that could afford them, patients and providers came to depend on antibiotics. Trouble was, the more antibiotics are consumed, the more resistant bacteria develop.

Norway responded swiftly to initial MRSA outbreaks in the 1980s by cutting antibiotic use. Thus while they got ahead of the infection, the rest of the world fell behind.

In Norway, MRSA has accounted for less than 1 percent of staph infections for years. That compares to 80 percent in Japan, the world leader in MRSA; 44 percent in Israel; and 38 percent in Greece.

In the U.S., cases have soared and MRSA cost $6 billion last year. Rates have gone up from 2 percent in 1974 to 63 percent in 2004.

 Read the whole thing and do your part by not forcing your doctor to prescribe antibiotics immediately.

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