Lifewatch: Superbugs

Reported by Claire Hosmann - email
Posted by Debra Worley - email

(WECT) - If you have been coughing, sneezing, and feeling sick for weeks superbugs may be to blame.

Many people have already suffered through a cold or the flu this season, but when you turn to your doctor for relief, be careful what you wish for.

"Many, many patients still do believe that antibiotics treat the common cold or viral infections," said lung specialist Dr. Devang Doshi.  "Oftentimes they come in asking for antibiotics."

Antibiotics only kill bacterial infections and are useless against viruses.  Misusing the medication can create resistant superbugs.

"Because we are seeing more drug resistant organisms out there, physicians will try what has normally worked in the past as the first line defense drug and then if the patient persists and is sick and still has indications for an infection, then they'll go and try a second or third antibiotic," said hospital CEO Dr. Paul Beaupre.

Hospitals say they have seen a steady increase in the superbug known as MRSA and C-Diff infections which can cause everything from diarrhea to inflammation of the colon.

"These organisms are essentially mutating and are able to recognize the antibiotic and develop resistance to antibiotic," said Dr. Beaupre.  "Don't have the expectation that as soon as you walk in and see your physician, that the physician is going to give you an antibiotic just because you have a runny nose."

Doctors say washing your hands several times a day can help protect you from superbugs.