University at Buffalo students partake in World Antibiotic Awareness Week

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — You can’t see it, but bacteria is all around us and even on and inside of us.

“People may feel squeamish about this concept, these bacteria are our friends,” said Thomas Russo, MD University at Buffalo Internal Medicine Physician.

Dr Russo says the good bacteria, like that in your intestinal tract, helps with vital processes like producing vitamins and digesting foods.

“They protect us from other types of microbes that could cause infections. so these good bacteria perform something that we call colonization resistance,” said Dr. Russo.

Students are learning about how some of this good bacteria works. In one class they took some from their own bodies with sterile sticks.

“Tomorrow and through the rest of the week we’re going to be going back into the classrooms to show the students how microbes that grow on their head for instance are different from the ones that grow on their skin,” said Jennifer Surtees, University at Buffalo Associate Professor of Biochemistry.

Our bodies, or microbiomes, contain billions of bacteria. But every time you take an antibiotic, Dr. Russo says an inevitable consequence is it affects the good bacteria. He says antibiotics are limited and overuse is a problem.

“Our overuse of antibiotics has led to the evolution and development of resistance to bacteria which now we don’t have new antibiotics to treat,” said Dr. Russo.

Dr. Russo says the development of new antibiotics is a long costly process, so it’s unlikely new antibiotics will hit the market in the near future.

Dr. Russo says antibiotics should only be taken when recommended by a doctor. He also says we’re in the early stages of understanding our relationship with bacteria, and a lot of research remains to be done.

For more information about World Antibiotic Awareness week, go to: http://www.who.int/antimicrobial-resistance/events/world-antibiotic-awareness-week-2016/en/

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