TYLER (KYTX) - Superbugs are spreading across the country. According to new research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these drug-resistant germs are infecting 2 million people every year. About 23,000 people die from their infections.
Doctors have been warning people about superbugs for years. It's a problem that's gotten worse as more and more people abuse antibiotics.
They're not the answer for every sickness. That's the warning from doctors like Jonathan MacClements. He's the Smith County Health Authority.
"These bugs are really smart." he says. "They've developed a resistance. And now, the antibiotics that we used to use on them are not as efficacious."
And, he says some of them can be very serious.
"For instance, we know that gonorrhea, which used to be very easily treated in the past by antibiotics, has developed a resistance and is getting harder and harder to treat."
Other superbugs- clostridium difficile, CRE (which includes e-Coli) and staph.
"So, the word that we want to get out to our patients is we don't want you to worry." says Dr. MacClements. "We're carefully watching this as doctors."
He says it's important to trust your doctor and not always insist on a prescription for antibiotics.
"A number of deaths are a result of these bugs that have developed resistance in these patients. And, so now, when we go to use these antibiotics, they don't work."
He says the best way to protect yourself from these bugs is to wash your hands.
It's habit for 62-year-old Katherine Parker.
"I wash my hands regularly and I carry towelettes wherever I go."
She says superbugs are concerning.
"Especially with kids and older people, like me, with health problems."
Dr. MacClements says people should know doctors are taking caution. As these bugs develop, there is research underway on how to develop new ways to kill them.