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Fighting Bugs Through Education

Narrator: This is Science Today. Epidemiologist Lee Riley of the University of California, Berkeley says there are more and more cases of bacterial infections that are resistant to all antibiotics. They tend to crop up in hospitals, which is the last place you'd imagine catching a drug-resistant bug. Riley says the reason is the massive use of antibiotics generally. Weak bacteria are wiped out, leaving only the strong. And it's hard to get doctors not to prescribe antibiotics when they're not needed.

Riley: In most teaching hospitals I think everybody's aware that overuse of antibiotics does contribute to the emergence of a drug resistant organism. It's not a new concept. But for some reason, to actually put that concept into practice is very difficult. Even in teaching hospitals.

Narrator: And among doctors in private practice...

Riley: The physicians are always under pressure from their patients to give them something.
And what happens in these patients is if they don't get anything they go to some other physician.

Narrator: The only real answer, says Riley, is education.

Riley: I think the physicians just have to be honest enough and brave enough to educate the patients that they don't need antibiotics in every sniffle and sore throat and cough.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Steve Tokar.