Mythbusters: What do you know about antibiotic resistance?

27 November 2017
Written by
Shannon Harmon

For Antibiotic Awareness Week, we held a Twitter Chat addressing common misconceptions about antibiotics and resistance. We have curated a selection of tweets into a Storify from the 200 accounts that took part, which answer some of the questions that clinicians, researchers and the antibiotic resistance healthcare communities commonly come across.

  • Why should we care about antibiotic use?
  • When shouldn’t we take antibiotics?
  • Do we trust doctors too much?
  • When is it ok to challenge your GP?
  • What is reliable information?
  • Where can you get it?
  • How are sepsis and antibiotic resistance related?
  • How can patients educate themselves on antibiotic resistant pathogens How is farming contributing to antibiotic resistance?
  • Should I finish my course of antibiotics?

In intervals, we asked these questions to our panel of experts and the world of Twitter to see what we could learn and if we could clarify some of the confusion.

One of the most interesting conversations was about whether we trust doctors too much and whether it is okay to challenge your clinician if they prescribe antibiotics. The consensus seemed mixed, with some people saying we don't trust doctors enough and that we really should listen to them, while others said sometimes doctors are over-prescribing antibiotics due to time constraints or without knowing for sure if it is a bacterial or viral infection. 

Questions from the peanut gallery

These, however, were not the only questions which came up. One public follower had a cold and wanted to know the difference between bacterial and viral infections - and how could he tell if he had a superbug (which he didn't thankfully). He received info in several tweets by Adam Roberts from Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and Caroline Purslow, here at the Longitude Prize, answering his questions and guiding him in the right direction, teaching him that not every cold needs antibiotics and he should probably ride this one out. 

Lastly, of course, the question we all wanted to ask. but most were not brave enough, so I did the hard work for you: "Can I get antibiotic resistance from my cat?" Well...read our Storify to find out