PALM SPRINGS, Calif. - The U.S. Centers for Disease Control is taking further action to warn people about drug-resistant bacteria or "superbugs," now categorizing the organisms by threat level including "urgent," "serious" and "concerning."
The CDC said more than two million people get antibiotic-resistant infections each year. Local physicians said the problem stems from patients overusing antibiotics, for example, taking the drugs to fight a common cold, sore throat or flu when antibiotics are meant to fight bacteria not viruses.
When misusing drugs or not appropriately taking what's prescribed, your body's healthy bacteria gain resistance.
"What you end up having are the superbugs slowly move out and they are resistant to every antibiotic and become very difficult to kill. We have to use higher concentrations and more medications," said Tim Perlick, director of pharmacy at Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs.
Superbugs can be deadly. The CDC said at least 23,000 people die each year because current drugs no longer stop their infections.
"For us it's more about educating patients that not every infection needs antibiotics, not every cold or sinus infection," said University of California Riverside family physician Michael Hughes at Desert Regional Medical Center.
The CDC is ranking the worst drug-resistant bacteria according to how many people get sick, the number of hospitalizations and the number of deaths caused by each.
Physicians encourage you get rest, exercise good hygiene and follow doctor's orders.
"The CDC is enforcing the patients partnership in their healthcare. It's not only seeking advice but when you're prescribed actually take it and do it with diligence," said Perlick.