WV sees second highest antibiotic abuse in U.S. - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

WV sees second highest antibiotic abuse in U.S.

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West Virginia ranks second in states that overuse antibiotics, and Kentucky follows closely behind, according to the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy. While the rest of the country has seen a drop in prescriptions filled over the past 10 years, that's not the case for the tri-state region.

In small doses, antibiotics have the power to save lives. But the line between cure and cause looks thin.

"Any way you cut it, it's bad for society, it's bad for medicine, and it's bad for public health," said Dr. Rahul Gupta, the executive director of the Kanawha-Charleston Health Board.

Health professionals said we've come to rely on the drug as an easy fix--for everything from viruses to the common cold.

But research shows too much of a good thing hurts us in the long run.

"So you actually have the good bacteria and the bad bacteria," said pharmacist Joe Good. "When you take antibiotics, you wipe out the good bacteria and the bad bacteria."

That means when you use antibiotics over and over and over again--the drug loses the power to fight disease in your body. And new studies suggest when we take too much, antibiotics could rattle our bodies, even causing urinary tract infections.

"Oh sure, we're nervous about antibiotics sometimes," said parent Brett Barker, of Pinch. "You hear how some may have bad parts in it, but we trust in our doctors to make sure they're doing the research."

Many parents said they only give their kids antibiotics when doctors say so.

"My son has had the same pediatrician since birth," said parent Jennifer Dooley. "So my pediatrician doesn't over-prescribe. So when it is prescribed, I knows it's necessary."

"We follow the doctor's orders--we follow the prescriptions," Barker said.

But what happens when a doctors lead us astray? Good said he sees it often--a prescription that doesn't match the sickness. Professionals added its hard to turn away a patient who looks and feels miserable.

"If you're feeling bad and you go to see your physician, you expect him to write a prescription for you," Good said.

The biggest question that remains: Why our area? Doctors list several reasons: West Virginia and Kentucky are two of the unhealthiest states in the U.S. Additionally, the state that use the most antibiotics also have more people enrolled in Medicaid than compared to the national average.