“The reality of the situation is really quite disturbing,” said UTMB’s Dr. A. Clinton White Jr. on the possibility of a post-antibiotic era. “I think that for a long period of time the benefits of antibiotics were so obvious that we ignored the down side.” Anywhere from a third to half of outpatients treated with antibiotics have illnesses that antibiotics won’t help, and the numbers are only a little better in hospitals, White said. And while overuse of antibiotics is exacerbating the problem, any use of antibiotics promotes the rise of drug-resistant microbes, both White and the CDC report warn. The good news is that both physicians and the public have gotten wiser about antibiotic use, said UTMB’s Dr. Oscar Brown. “We have made great strides over the past 15 years in reducing the amount of antibiotics we use,” Brown said. For example, Brown said he sees fewer mothers these days who demand antibiotics for sick children when there’s a good chance they are suffering from a viral infection that antibiotics won’t help. “We’ve effected a pretty good culture change and numbers indicate a fairly good drop in antibiotic use from about the late ’90s,” he said. “I’m not saying we have cured the problem, but we have done a better job of educating the public and doctors as well.” [Note: Paid subscription required. Contact us for details.]