Responsible Antibiotic Use

Responsible Antibiotic Use

It’s important to start off by saying that you will not want to indiscriminately use antibiotics for every minor ailment that comes along. In a collapse, the medic is also a quartermaster of sorts; you will want to wisely dispense that limited and, yes, precious supply of life-saving drugs.

Liberal use of antibiotics is a poor strategy for a few reasons. These include:

  • Overuse can foster the spread of resistant bacteria. Antibiotics routinely given to turkeys recently caused a resistant strain of Salmonella that put over 100 people in the hospital. 36 million pounds of ground turkey were recalled.
  • Potential allergic reactions may occur that could lead to anaphylactic shock (see our recent podcast on this topic at
  • Making a diagnosis may be more difficult if you give antibiotics beforeyou’re sure what medical problem you’re actually dealing with. The antibiotics might temporarily “mask” the symptoms, which could cost you valuable time in determining the correct treatment.

Having said this, not having antibiotics in your storage may result in the unnecessary deaths of members of your group to infections incurred from activities of daily survival.  An infected cut from chopping wood, for example, may travel to the circulation causing a life-threatening condition known as “Septicemia” or “sepsis“.  In the History Channel series “After Armageddon“, this was the cause of death of an EMT survivor due to the lack of antibiotics in the survival community’s medical storage.

You can see that judicious use of antibiotics in survival situations, under your close supervision, is necessary to fully utilize their benefits. Discourage your group members from using these drugs without first consulting you.  Remember, YOU will be in charge of making these (sometime difficult) decisions to parcel out your limited medical supplies. Use them wisely.


In my dual role as physician and aquaculturist (I raise tilapia in ponds as a food fish), I treated humans and fish with antibiotics when it was appropriate. It wasn’t until I began writing about medical preparedness that I realized the similarities of some of the aquarium and avian medicines (I also have an African Gray parrot) to human antibiotics.  After seeing a totally unnecessary death in the series “After Armageddon”, I decided to research the usefulness of alternative ways for the average person to accumulate medications.  This is not for everyday use but only for a post-apocalyptic setting.

From Doc Bones and Nurse Amy

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