A majority of Americans believe the health threat posed by antibiotic resistance is real and pressing, a new survey shows.
The survey of more than 1,000 adults found that 65 percent believe antibiotic resistance is a public health problem, and 81 percent are worried that antibiotic resistance will make more infections difficult to treat or even deadly.
The survey was conducted by Research!America, a nonprofit public policy and health research organization, and the Infectious Disease Society of America (IDSA). It was also funded partly by drug maker Pfizer Inc.
“Americans understand that antibiotic-resistant ‘superbugs’ are a public health threat, and they support putting the public and private sector research continuum to work to address this intensifying health threat,” Mary Woolley, Research!America president and CEO, said in a news release from the group.
In the survey, there was widespread support across the political spectrum for increased federal funding of research and public health measures to tackle antibiotic resistance — from Democrats (81 percent), Republicans (76 percent) and Independents (70 percent).
The respondents also felt that drug companies and doctors need to do their part.
While 73 percent said the federal government should provide incentives to encourage increased private sector investment in the development of new antibiotics, 83 percent believe pharmaceutical companies should also develop more antibiotics. Meanwhile, 92 percent agree that doctors and other health care professionals should only prescribe antibiotics when necessary.
The survey also found that: 37 percent of respondents mistakenly believe that antibiotics can treat viral infections; only 57 percent knew that even a single course of antibiotics taken when not appropriate can contribute to antibiotic resistance; and only 61 percent knew that antibiotic-resistant bacteria can spread from person to person.
Also, 29 percent of respondents said they would be unhappy if their doctor did not prescribe antibiotics for their child’s viral infection.
Dr. Cynthia Sears is president of IDSA. “Antibiotic resistance is threatening our ability to safely and effectively provide medical care to many patients, including organ and bone marrow transplants, joint replacements and other complex surgeries, cancer chemotherapy, and care of preterm infants,” she said.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on antibiotic resistance.