SOAP BOX: Antibiotic misuse fears materialise

THE last time you were prescribed antibiotics, did you take the full course?

Or did you take them for a few days, feel better and then stop using them?

I have always been a firm believer of black or white. You either take the full course or don't take any at all.

But so many people fall into that grey area.

For years doctors and scientists have been warning antibiotic misuse would lead to the creation of resistant super bugs.

Guess what?

It's happened.

Earlier this month, scientists announced the discovery of bacteria that is not only immune to antibiotics but can also make other bacteria become drug resistant.

The superbug, called the mc1-r gene, was first found in a strain of E.coli discovered in meat in China, but has now also been found in meat samples from Germany, Malaysia and in a Danish patient.

It is only a matter of time before it reaches our shores.

Melbourne's Austin Hospital director of infectious diseases Professor Lindsay Grayson used the perfect analogy when describing how simply things can change in a person when a super bug is introduced.

Simply eating the contaminated food would set the proverbial wheels in irreversible motion.

"It's a bit like having a washing machine full of white t-shirts and you put one red t-shirt into the washing machine and do a hot wash and all the white t-shirts become red t-shirts," Prof Grayson said.

"The red t-shirt doesn't multiply itself - it leeches out in that case the dye or in this case the resistance gene and causes all the healthy bugs in your gut to become resistant."