Tackling the spread of superbugs: U of A expert weighs in

The spread of so-called superbugs — bacteria that resist antibiotics — can seem like a frightening prospect.

Matthias Gotte is a University of Alberta researcher who studies infectious disease with a focus on illnesses such as influenza, Zika virus, and Norovirus. 

He said society faces new infectious diseases all the time, and that the problem is not going away.

"There's an increasing number of bacteria that are resistant to drugs that used to work a couple of years earlier," he said.

However, there are protective measures we can take, Gotte said.

The first and easiest step? Wash your hands.

The second step is to increase your own awareness about how bugs work. Gotte said many people still don't understand that a virus can't be treated with an antibiotic; antibiotics work against bacteria.

Overuse of antibiotics is a big problem, Gotte said. 

A final key part of fighting back against superbugs is continued research to create new treatments and to update approaches for existing antibiotics that no longer work.

"There are a number of things one can do at the personal level, individual level and in the community as a whole," he said.