Take for example the bacterium Clostridium difficile a.k.a. C. diff. This bacterium can be found in small amounts as part of the healthy gut flora in about 2-5% of the adult population. When prescribed antibiotics that kill off C. diff's competitors without killing C. diff, this microbe is able to take advantage of the newly available space and food resource and will begin to multiply. As it does so, C. diff will start to produce toxins, which can cause severe, even life-threatening, inflammation of the colon. We see most cases of C. diff infection in hospitals among patients who are on broad-spectrum antibiotics.
Dr. Keegan talked about how being more careful with which antibiotics are prescribed in different situations can make a big difference in protecting patients from the effects of a disrupted microbiome. He talked about the work he and his colleagues have done to bring awareness to the issues of antibiotic preservation and stewardship of the gut flora. By helping physicians to understand the broader impacts of antibiotic preservation, his team has seen remarkable improvements in hospitals. We are talking significant reductions in cases of MRSA and C. diff with very little effort once physicians are aware of how to more appropriately prescribe antibiotics that are less disruptive to the gut flora.
During his talk, he mentioned a documentary about antibiotic stewardship. The documentary is called Resistance and it explores the history of antibiotics and the rise of superbugs due to improper usage of various antibiotics. You can catch the trailer by going here: http://www.resistancethefilm.com/
To continue the conversation about antibiotic and gut flora stewardship, SDSM&T will be doing a screening of the film on Friday, December 14th at 9:30AM in the McKeel Conference Room in the Surbeck Center. There will also be a brief discussion of the topic following the film for those who would like to stick around to talk a little bit more about the subject.
We hope you can join us!