Health leader warns of deadly 'post-antibiotic' world
As antibiotics become less effective, common ailments such as sore throats could kill
Director General of the World Health Organization Margaret Chan warns
that the world is entering an era where injuries as common as a
scratched knee could kill, and patients entering hospital gamble with
their lives as routine procedures as a hip replacement become too
dangerous to perform.
Director General of the World Health Organization Margaret Chan warns that the world is entering an era where injuries as common as a scratched knee could kill, and patients entering hospital gamble with their lives as routine procedures as a hip replacement become too dangerous to perform.
Chan says that every antibiotic ever developed was at risk of becoming useless. Addressing a meeting of infectious disease experts in Copenhagen, Chan said that in a "post-antibiotic era means, in effect, an end to modern medicine as we know it. Things as common as strep throat or a child's scratched knee could once again kill.
"Antimicrobial resistance is on the rise in Europe, and elsewhere in the world. We are losing our first-line antimicrobials.
"Replacement treatments are more costly, more toxic, need much longer durations of treatment, and may require treatment in intensive care units.
"For patients infected with some drug-resistant pathogens, mortality has been shown to increase by around 50 percent.
"Some sophisticated interventions, like hip replacements, organ transplants, cancer chemotherapy, and care of preterm infants, would become far more difficult or even too dangerous to undertake."
To illustrate, Chan pointed out that Britain has seen a 30 percent rise in cases of blood poisoning caused by E. coli bacteria between 2005 and 2009, from 18,000 to more than 25,000 cases.
The most powerful antibiotics are carbapenems, which are used as a last line of defense for the treatment of resistant infections.
In 2009, carbapenem-resistant K. pneumonia, a bug present in the gut, was first detected in Greece but by the following year had spread to Italy, Austria, Cyprus and Hungary.
The European Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the percentage of carbapenem-resistant K. pneumonia had doubled from 7 percent to 15 percent. An estimated 25,000 people die each year in the European Union from antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections.
"The Evolving Threat of Antimicrobial Resistance: Options for Action," is a book which warns that breakthrough treatments discovered in the last century for flu, tuberculosis, malaria and HIV may become ineffective in the coming years.
Chan called for action to restrict the use of antibiotics in food production and a crackdown on counterfeit medicines. "Worldwide, the fact that greater quantities of antibiotics are used in healthy animals than in unhealthy humans is a cause for great concern," she said.
© 2012, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Antibiotics, microbes, World Health Organization, pneumonia
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