Six years ago, Emily Morris contracted what should have been a simple-to-treat infection but the bacteria were resistant to antibiotics. Still suffering from recurring infections, she says more needs to be done to inform the public of the dangers
What infection do you suffer from and how was it diagnosed?The original infection was ESBL E. coli (see box for more information, over), which was diagnosed with a urine culture six years ago. However, I don't have to have ESBL to be resistant; antibiotics can sometimes not work on a normal E. coli UTI or Enterococcus infection.
How did you discover that you were resistant to antibiotics?My GP told me that some antibiotics are not effective for the superbug I had and that it's hard to treat.
Had you heard of antimicrobial resistance before your diagnosis?No, never.
What antibiotics are you resistant to, and do you know how many more options are left to try?My antibiotics sensitivity chart changes with each infection. Years ago, trimethoprim and amoxicillin, which is usually used for UTI infections, would not work. but, over time, treating basic UTI infections, which I am prone to because of kidney reflux, will increasingly become problematic because my sensitivity to antibiotics is decreasing. I'm currently resistant to most oral types.
What is it like to live with a chronic antibiotic resistant infection?It's horrible to know that I can't rely on antibiotics when I get ill. It is terrifying. Especially as I am susceptible to getting it because of kidney reflux, which a lot of my family suffer from.
Has it had a significant impact on your lifestyle?Yes, I don't drink much alcohol and my fiancé has to put up with a lot from me when it comes to support when I have a UTI attack. It's also hard being a working mum when I have an infection. I can't give my son a bath as I'm in so much pain. Also, I am extremely passionate about my job and hate calling in sick.
What have you been told about your prognosis?I haven't been told much. I just know we need new a antibiotic line before it becomes resistant to all. That's why the work Antibiotic Research UK is doing is so important to me.
Are you happy with the care you have received?Yes, from my GP, she is amazing. She knows exactly how to treat my infections and is extremely supportive. But it can be hard when I go into hospital as I have to explain what the infection is to a lot of doctors and nurses. Which is worrying when I'm there to be treated with an IV antibiotic.
Have you tried any alternative approaches to preventing/treating infection?Yes, cranberry tablets, lots of water and probiotics, but when I get an attack I need antibiotics to get rid of the infection.
Do you know about any clinical trials of new antibiotics and would you consider taking part?No I don't but I would consider it. Antibiotic Research UK has just commissioned its first piece of research that will screen for antibiotic resistance breakers against antibiotic resistance in Gram-negative bacteria. This is only the first step and I welcome this.
What is your greatest hope for the future?My greatest hope is that there are new antibiotics so that I do not get such strong bugs. This is not just for me, but also for the many patients who are or will experience this. Antibiotic-resistant infections are increasing, which means more and more deaths. I would really like to see a new antibiotic for my son's generation.
What is your greatest fear?That my sensitivity chart decreases to nothing, which means that none of the current antibiotics will be effective.
Do you feel the general public is fully aware of the issues of antimicrobial resistance and its potentially serious implications?Not at all. You see parents demanding antibiotics for a cold or viral infection for their babies and toddlers and not understanding the potential of building up resistance. Or you see people not finishing antibiotic courses just because they feel better. We must do more to inform the general public and healthcare professionals on the dangers of such resistance and this is another area that Antibiotic Research UK is doing such great work in.