Antibiotic-resistant bacteria 'pose risk of pandemic'

Global resistance to antibiotics will turn treatable illnesses back into killers, warns WHO

LAST UPDATED AT 15:52 ON Thu 1 May 2014

THE World Health Organisation [WHO] has warned that antibiotic-resistant bacteria have now spread to every part of the world, giving rise to the potential for a series of untreatable epidemics.

Its report says that global misuse of antibiotics has increased the number of drug-resistant superbugs, which can render curable diseases lethal again.

"The world is headed for a post-antibiotic era where common infections and minor injuries will kill once again," said Keiji Fukuda, assistant director-general for health security at the WHO.

The study, which is the first of its kind, correlated data from 114 different countries to measure resistance to antibiotics. It focused on bacteria that cause common but serious diseases.

In some countries, treatment is ineffective in more than half the cases of E. coli, The Guardian reports, as the bacteria is now resistant to the fluoroquinolone antibiotics used to treat it.

In the UK, the report found high rates of resistance in gonorrhoea.

Carmen Pessoa Da Silva, the doctor who leads the WHO's programme, says: "If no action is taken to reduce the spread of resistance and find new solutions, we will reach a point where some infections will no-longer be treatable."

When antibiotics entered widespread use in the 1950s they have were regarded as a miracle cure, but no new antibiotic drug has been discovered in more than 30 years.

According to New Scientist, pharmaceutical companies are unwilling to invest large sums in developing new drugs that are used only for brief courses of treatment.

In 2013 Britain's Chief Medical Officer, Dr Sally Davies, described antibiotic resistance as "a ticking time bomb" that posed a similar threat to terrorism, CBS reports. · 

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