World Antibiotic Awareness Week

14 November 2017

Antimicrobial resistance occurs when microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites change in ways that render the medications used to cure the infections they cause ineffective. When the microorganisms become resistant to most antimicrobials they are often referred to as “superbugs”. This is a major concern because a resistant infection may kill, can spread to others, and imposes huge costs to individuals and society. Antimicrobial resistance threatens the effective prevention and treatment of an ever-increasing range of infections caused by bacteria, parasites, viruses and fungi. It is an increasingly serious threat to global public health that requires action across all government sectors and society.

Derek Butler was a founding member of MRSA Action UK following the loss of his stepfather to MRSA in 2003. This was not the first time he had lost a family member to this organism, his grandfather and uncle also succumbed to MRSA and died.

Derek and his partner Maria Cann worked with Manchester Science Partnerships on a short film recounting their personal experiences with MRSA and the Gram Negative bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

They are passionate about raising awareness and the need to tackle antimicrobial resistance, as these films demonstrate.

Superbugs and the Role of Diagnostics - World Antibiotic Awareness Week

14 November 2017

The Longitude Prize and the Antimicrobial Research Centre at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine hosted an event to celebrate the third anniversary of the five year prize -‘Superbugs and the Role of Diagnostics’.

Dr Zoe Williams, resident doctor on This Morning and a presenter on BBC Two’s Trust Me I’m a Doctor, explored the lives of those affected by superbugs, the clinicians trying to help them and the teams coming up with solutions to reduce antibiotic resistance.

MRSA Action UK Vice Chair Helen Bronstein spoke about her personal experience of MRSA having lost her mum Joyce to the superbug. Her presentation titled "Joyce: a real person behind the superbug hype" emphasised the magnitude of the task ahead of us in preventing infections, tackling antimicrobial resistance, and preventing unneccessary suffering and deaths from superbugs.

The event was well attended and there were opportunities to try out the developing technology for point of care testing, which is viewed by experts as the key to being able to prescribe antimicrobials effectively when they are needed, ultimately saving this valuable resource for future generations.

There was a lot of coverage and sharing of experiences with infection preventionists on social media, Helen was one of many participants sharing the human stories, reminding us of how important antimicrobial stewardship is.

Conference with European Parliament, Brussels Scientific, Human Health, Husbandry, and Socio-Economic Aspects of Antimicrobial Resistance: Time to Act

Susan Fallon-Knapper, Vice Chair MRSA Action UK told her moving story to MEPs in the European Parliament. It took courage to speak of events that led to her beautiful daughter Sammie passing away with MRSA at the young age of 17.

The conference was hosted by MEPs Ms. Adina-Iona Valean, Chair and Mr. Pavel Poc, Vice Chair of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, and Mr. Fredrick Federley Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety and Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development.

Sue's presentation opened the event preceding Dr Marc Sprenger, Director of the AMR Secretariat of the World Health Organisation, who gave a Keynote speech on the theme of the UK’s All-Party Parliamentary Group on Patient Safety Report "Time to Act", published December 9th 2016.

Speaking at the event, Susan told how her daughter Samantha had died from Meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), an infection caused by a type of bacteria that has become resistant to many of the antibiotics used to treat ordinary infections.

She gave a moving and emotional testimony on how 17-year-old Samantha never left hospital after being admitted for a relatively minor virus. Over the following four days, the college student suffered major organ failure and it was discovered she had MRSA in her nose, neck and lung. Sue spoke of how her personal tragedy highlighted the growing threat from antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

She was one of the keynote speakers at the half day conference, co-organised by PA International Foundation, which brought together MEPs, physicians and experts in the field.

Sue said "I want to call on the Parliament, on behalf of MRSA Action UK and all those who we support, to put in place rules and regulations to prevent people falling victim to AMR.

"We would like the Parliament to take the lead to ensure we protect our present stock of antibiotics and to help develop other antimicrobials for future generations.

"We are the golden generation who have been born and live in an antibiotic era, who have enjoyed the greatest leap in medical science in mankind.

"But I am asking for you to take the action required so that no one else has to go through what my family and I have been through." The event, which came on the eve of the Commission's new action plan on AMR, heard that bacteria found in humans, animals and food continue to show resistance to widely used antimicrobials.


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