Wellness Matters

What Are Superbugs? And Should We Be Worried?

January 25, 2017

So-called "superbugs" have been getting a lot of press lately, and it's been a source of fear and anxiety for people across the country.  

Biofilm of antibiotic resistant bacteria
Biofilm of antibiotic resistant bacteria
Here are some facts about superbugs and antibiotic preservation to help reassure and educate people in our communities.

What are superbugs? Superbugs are bacteria and other microbes that have developed resistance to the antibiotics used to treat infections. Infections with resistant bacteria are difficult to treat.

Are there superbugs in North Carolina? Superbugs can be found anywhere, and, yes, we have had cases in North Carolina.

Is Cone Health prepared to treat superbugs? Cone Health is prepared. Our Infection Prevention, Infectious Disease and Pharmacy teams closely monitor patients for bacterial infections and those that develop resistance. Standard and transmission-based precautions protect against the spread of these infections, along with hand hygiene and adequate cleaning protocols.

Should we be concerned about superbugs? Everyone should be concerned and diligent when it comes to the use of antibiotics. Not every illness requires antibiotics, and we want to use the right antibiotic at the right time for the proper duration. This diligence will help us to preserve the effectiveness of the antibiotics we have and prevent future superbugs.

What is our best defense against superbugs? Hand hygiene is the No. 1 way to prevent the spread of infections. Preserving the antibiotics we have is one key defense. Many illnesses are viral in nature, which means antibiotics do not work and should not be requested or used to treat them. Over-the-counter medications, such as fever reducers, are effective in treating viruses. Another defense is a healthy lifestyle – eating right, getting enough rest, exercising, staying healthy.

About the Author

Melissa Morgan, MSN, RN, CIC, CSPDT

Melissa Morgan, MSN, RN, CIC, CSPDT, is Cone Health's system-wide director for infection prevention.


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