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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

11/18/2013 (4 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

As bacteria has evolved to be immune to medicine, mankind face perilous future

Medical advances made with antibiotics are now being threatened by "super bugs," diseases which are immune to current medications. Experts warn that the health of collective humanity is at stake.

Anti-microbial resistance has a well-known growing threat.

Anti-microbial resistance has a well-known growing threat.

Article Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

11/18/2013 (4 months ago)

Published in Health

Keywords: Antibiotics, overuse, superbugs, pneumonia


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Scientists say that routine operations could become highly dangerous "in the very near future." as bacteria evolve to resist the drugs we use to combat them. Government doctors in a special editorial in The Lancet health journal say this could erase a century of medical advances.

Anti-microbial resistance has a well-known growing threat. National health systems, already under pressure from aging populations, will now have to deal with the rising cost of caring for people in the "post-antibiotic era."

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"I am concerned that in 20 years, if I go into hospital for a hip replacement, I could get an infection leading to major complications and possible death, simply because antibiotics no longer work as they do now," England's deputy chief medical officer, Professor John Watson says.

As more antibiotics circulate, more bacteria is able to evolve to resist them. General practitioners have been handing them out to their patients like candy in the manner of Santa Clauses at Christmastime. Drug development kept pace with evolving microbes, with a constant production line of new classes of antibiotics. These drugs have since ceased to be profitable. A new class of antibiotics has not been created since 1987.

England's chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies warns that death rates from bacterial infections "might return to those of the early 20th century."

"Rarely has modern medicine faced such a grave threat. Without antibiotics, treatments from minor surgery to major transplants could become impossible, and health-care costs are likely to spiral as we resort to newer, more expensive antibiotics and sustain longer hospital admissions."

Suggestions to run back this tide include cutting the amount of antibiotics prescribed, improving hospital hygiene and creating incentives for the pharmaceutical industry to work on novel antibiotics and antibiotic alternatives.

However - the public must shoulder some responsibility. "The change needs to come in patient expectation. We need public education: that not every ill needs a pill," Dr. Peter Swinyard, chairman of the Family Doctor Association says.

"We try hard not to prescribe, but it's difficult in practice. The patient will be dissatisfied with your consultation, and is likely to vote with their feet, register somewhere else or go to the walk-in center and get antibiotics from the nurse.

"But if we go into a post-antibiotic phase, we may find that people with pneumonia will not be treatable with an antibiotic, and will die, whereas at the moment they would live.

"People need to realize the link. If you treat little Johnny's ear infection with antibiotics, his mummy may end up dying of pneumonia. It's stark and it's, of course, not direct, but on a population-wide level, that's the kind of link we're talking about."

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