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Survey to gauge local grasp of antibiotic resistance

| 07/02/2017 | 21 Comments
Cayman News Service

(L-R) Acting Medical Officer of Health, Dr Samuel Williams-Rodriguez; Department of Agriculture Veterinary Officer, Dr Samantha Dorman and HSA Deputy National Epidemiologist Timothy McLaughlin-Munroe

(CNS): Local government officials have begun working on a national plan to tackle the growing, global problem of antibiotic resistance. One of the first steps is to measure how much people in Cayman already know about the problem, which is caused by a catalogue of issues, such as the use of antibiotics in food and the over-prescription by doctors. The Cayman Islands, like all other countries, will need to take steps to combat the phenomenon of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) that has led to a troubling increase in the ineffectiveness of drugs used to treat and prevent infections in humans and animals.

The health ministry, the Public Health Department, and the Department of Agriculture have joined forces to work on a plan, as recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Pan-American Health Organisation (PAHO), to deal with AMR and reduce antibiotic use.

AMR occurs when bacteria, parasites, viruses or fungi change in response to the use of these medications. DoA veterinary officer Dr Samantha Dorman said the primary cause is the over-use of medications for human and animal health.

Globally, over-use of antibiotics in livestock rearing, fish farming and plant production contribute to the development of anti-microbial resistance, as well as the misuse of antibiotics by patients who don’t finish a prescribed course.

The spread of resistant infections is assisted by lack of vaccinations, poor on-farm biosecurity measures and sub-standard hygiene practices in hospitals and during cooking. Dorman said that locally, antibiotic use in agriculture is low and the DoA says antibiotics should only be used for treatment of infections and only under the supervision of a veterinarian.

But international organisations describe AMR as potentially the most concerning public health and economic threat of the 21st century. They also estimate that without serious intervention, by 2050 death tolls from resistant infections could reach 10 million annually, with an associated financial burden of US$100 trillion. However, there is reason to believe that if people become more aware, the use of antibiotics can be reduced.

“It is not too late to reduce the impact of resistance to antibiotics and other antimicrobial medicines, and we all have a part to play in preserving their effectiveness,” Dr Dorman added.

The Health Services Authority (HSA) lab monitors for AMR in the human population on a regular basis and shares its findings with local physicians every six months. Among other things, a national action plan development process will seek to gain better insight into the severity of any local problem and the specific drivers of resistance.

Following a request from the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), the Department of Agriculture has started collecting information on the amounts of antibiotics used in animals by the various animal institutions on-island, and will continue to monitor this on an annual basis. The OIE’s objective is to develop a global database on the use of antimicrobial agents in animals.

Members of the national action plan development working group held their first meeting last month. The team consists of public health, pharmacy, agriculture, infection control, laboratory, and environmental health personnel. It has been tasked by the WHO and PAHO with creating an AMR national action plan draft by the end of May this year. Representatives say they are well on their way to achieving this goal.

The group is  now reaching out to the general public through an online survey to gauge existing knowledge about practices that increase the risk and spread of AMR.

The survey can be accessed here

Hard copies of the survey are available at all public health district clinics, at the general practice and public health desks at the Cayman Islands Hospital, at Faith Hospital in Cayman Brac, and the clinic in Little Cayman.

Additional details are available from the Department of Agriculture at 947-3090, email [email protected], or the Public Health Department at 244-2621 or 244-2561.

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Category: Health, health and safety

Comments (21)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Antibiotic Resistance? Has Trump pi$$ed them off too? There are no limits in his book…




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  2. Anonymous says:

    German doctors don’t prescribe antibiotics, unless it is a life/death situation.




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  3. Darwin says:

    Genetic antimicrobial resistance is a direct consequence of evolutuon. It is the mutations within the genes of the bacteria that allow it to survive and in turn pass on those mutations to their offspring. This is natural selection through random gene mutations and there is nothing anyone can do as yet to stop these mutations since evolution via natural selection has been proceeding since the formation of the universe. Anyone who assumes differently is stupid.




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  4. Anonymous says:

    Get a handle of the “local grasp” — I assume this means the general public’s knowledge — of the problem of antibiotic resistance? Oh, come on! What a waste of tax payers money! The way forward is:

    1. Ask all medical facilities to fully document the infections they experience, including organ system involved, organisms identified by culture and sensitivity, along with the antibiotic and dose used in treatment.
    2. Centrally collate the data.
    3. Based on the findings, and on the current research, publish a best practice (for the Cayman Islands) white paper on the antibiotic protocols for the infectious organisms identified, AND, most importantly. . .
    4. LIMIT the number of antibiotics available to physicians based on the organisms identified.
    5. Evaluate the data on an annual basis to monitor the change in organism and modify the drugs list accordingly.

    This protocol is used in every credible healthcare facility across the globe. With respect to the good lady, what difference does it make if Mrs. Ebanks in West Bay knows a little, or a lot, about antibiotic resistance?




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  5. Anonymous says:

    20 years behind the rest of the planet as usual. The problem is, as it was in the 1990s, simply doctors using antibiotics as a placebo. People come in feeling sick but the doctor has no idea what the problem is so, rather than handing out something harmless like aspirin, prescribes a course of broad spectrum antibiotics. I used to have a doctor who had a much better idea – he’d tell you to go away and drink Scotch. That always worked.




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  6. Anonymous says:

    Further to over-prescription: I personally know of “intelligent” professionals that ask their doctor to give them antibiotics when they have a cold, the flu, or other viral infections. Unfortunately, there are many doctors here (and I’m sure in every other country) that will prescribe whatever medication their patients want, without actually investigating if it is needed or not. Antibiotics should only be prescribed for a bacterial infection, and using them outside of that need will build up a tolerance to them.




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  7. Crash Test Dummies says:

    Stop authorizing Oxitec/Intrexon from using Caymanians as guinea pigs in their little sterilization program would be a good start?




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  8. Anonymous says:

    Thyme oil is one of the strongest natural antiseptics known and is able to kill over 60 different strains of bacteria, including anthrax.
    An aspirin like compound with cortisone-like effects, but without the side effects of actual cortisone found in only two essential oils- birch and wintergreen. These oils have an analgesic effect.
    The problem is that 95% of essential oils market are synthetic, adulterated and diluted. 100% oils sold on Amazon is pure synthetic crap. in England, for example, authentic wintergreen oil is virtually non-existent. Instead, laboratory produced methyl salicylate is bottled and labeled “oil of wintergreen”, when in fact, it was not derived from wintergreen plant at all.
    Authentic oils are very expensive and not always available. But remember, you only need 1 drop at a time. A single drop of essential oil contains 40 quintillion molecules. You have 100 trillion cells in your body. Hence, one drop of oil is enough . to cover every cell in your body with 40,000 molecules.
    Distilled authentic essential oils contains no proteins, polypeptides, or amino acids and, thus contain no potential allergens.
    Why nobody studies essential oils as an alternative to antibiotics, beyond me.
    P.S. the information in this comment is from the book “The chemistry of essential oils made simple”




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  9. Anonymous says:

    10 million people dying at a total cost of 100 trillion. That is 10 million a person ?




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  10. Darwin says:

    It is not a phenomenon that microorganisms are altering the effectiveness of antibiotics. Antibiotic resistance is a consequence of evolution via natural selection. Mutations allow bacteria to survive,reproduce and pass the traits to their offspring, which in turn will be a fully resistant generation of bacteria.




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    • Anonymous says:

      This is a product of microbial evolution, and stagnant pharmaceutical innovation. Not sure what our provincial HSA thinks they are going to do about it, other than perhaps dissuading sick people from accepting antibiotics in every instance and encouraging people to take better care of their digestive gut flora.




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    • Anonymous says:

      If you’re suggesting there is no direct correlation between the misuse of antimicrobial has and the resistance of bacteria to antibiotics, then you are VERY misinformed.




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      • Darwin says:

        There is of course a connection. However, you must also acknowledge that mutations in the microorganisms will also manifest resistances regardless of incorrect use of the antimicrobial drugs. This is a direct cause of evolution.




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