Antibiotics are a cornerstone of the management of bacterial infections. 80 - 90% of antibiotics are prescribed in primary care, and up to 80% of these are used to treat acute respiratory tract infections. It is estimated that 50% of all antibiotic prescriptions are unnecessary. Although most acute respiratory tract infections, both upper and lower, are caused by viruses and although antibiotics offer at best a modest benefit, they are frequently used to treat these conditions. Unnecessary and inappropriate use of antibiotics favours the emergence and spread of resistant bacteria. Antibiotic resistance is a major public health concern, which could cause harm to a large number of patients worldwide if infections are no longer susceptible to common medicines used to treat them. Therefore, antibiotics should be used with caution and only when absolutely necessary.
The use of antibiotics in primary care varies considerably between countries, which is unlikely to be caused by differences in the frequency of bacterial infections. A clear correlation between the use of antibiotics and the emergence of antibiotic resistance has been observed. Restricting inappropriate and excessive antibiotic use may contribute to slowing down or even reversing the development of antibiotic resistance.
The QuikRead CRP test helps health care professionals to identify those patients who need - and particularly those who do not need - antibiotic therapy. It is also important to know whether the antibiotics will affect the course of the illness. QuikRead CRP is useful for following up the effect of treatment. With accurate information, patients can be more easily reassured that symptomatic treatment will be sufficient. On the other hand, a high QuikRead CRP reading would suggest a bacterial infection requiring antibiotic treatment.
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