As many as a thousand people may be dying in New Zealand each year as the result of infections contracted within New Zealand hospitals; the figure of a thousand is based on 10% of United Kingdom estimates.
My intention is not to unduly over dramatize the reality of what we are experiencing within New Zealand, it is a fact that the overuse and misuse of antibiotics has contributed to what has developed over recent years.
Bacteria and viruses are constantly evolving; the most successful are the ones that adapt to overcome our immune system and antibiotics which are our first and second line of defence. The need to constantly develop more effective antibiotics is rather like an arms race between competing forces; on one side we have the pathogens on the other side we have our choice of antibiotics. The over prescription and misuse of antibiotics has contributed to our present reality.
When antibiotics are prescribed it is important to complete the dose as prescribed; failure to do this may leave the pathogen within our body, giving it an opportunity to adapt and become resistant to that particular antibiotic the next time the need may arise to take it.
It may not be you that suffers the consequences; it may be someone you infect with the residual pathogen that has developed resistance. We are seeing this with the likes of
tuberculosis a disease that was almost eradicated and is making a comeback; there are many other examples.
What are commonly known as a hospital bug are in fact staphylococcus bacteria or staph infection; a third of the population carry staph bacteria on their skin, these bacteria thrive in moist areas of our bodies, such as armpits, nose and hands. Until these bacteria enter the blood stream they are generally harmless as the immune system is generally robust enough to ward off any health risk they may pose.
When we enter a hospital environment the risks increase as very often we are amongst people who are not well and there are multiple risks of cross contamination through contact with contaminated surfaces including bedding, door handles, hand rails, bathroom surfaces etc. Add to this the fact that skin surfaces may be opened during surgical procedures so the skin, our protective barrier is compromised opening an opportunity for pathogens to enter our blood stream where they multiply resulting in an infection.
In the event our immune system is overwhelmed and our second line of defence, antibiotics can’t cope, major health issues may develop. i.e. blood poisoning, organ failure etc. As with flu viruses those at most risk are the elderly, the very young, people on anti-rejection medication after transplants. This may include immune deficiency conditions also chemotherapy patients.
So once again our front line of defence is our skin and a robust immune system, supported by a healthy diet that includes lots of leafy green vegetables, fruit, grass-fed meat, fish (rich in omega3), supported by supplements that contain echinacea, active manuka honey, B groups vitamins, selenium and magnesium, bee pollen, energy pluss and omega3.