Victoria J. Fraser, MD, head of the Department of Medicine, spoke about antibiotic resistance and its evolution into a public health crisis at the 2015 TEDxStLouisWomen conference, an event that celebrated the impact women have here and around the world.
Fraser, a specialist in infectious diseases, spoke about antibiotic resistance and its evolution into a public health crisis. Emphasizing the importance of antibiotics, she began by telling how two doses of newly developed penicillin saved her father’s life after he had developed severe pneumonia during World War II.
“I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for antibiotics,” she said.
She went on to describe how antibiotic resistance develops and how fast the problem is spreading in the general population. “Antibiotic resistance is a huge storm, and it’s in our backyard,” she told a gathering of about 650 people.
Offering an example, Fraser said urinary tract infections, conditions that plague women in particular, have become exceedingly hard to treat as the microbes that cause the infections now resist most common antibiotics. Fraser, who is also physician in chief at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, has seen many cases that require broader spectrum antibiotics, which she noted can put patients at greater risk of developing other drug-resistant infections.
With a nod to talk show host David Letterman's recent departure from late-night television, Fraser ended her presentation by outlining the “Top Ten Things You Can Do” to prevent antibiotic resistance. Among them, she advised, don’t insist on antibiotics if your doctor says you don’t need them (for example, if you have a cold, which is usually spread by viruses and won’t respond to antibiotics); keep up to date on vaccinations; and wash your hands.
For more information about the conference, visit the TEDxStLouisWomen site.