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Antibiotic Resistance A “Catastrophic” Global Health Threat

The CDC, the University of Minnesota and the UK's Chief Medical Officer have all issued warnings about drug-resistant bacteria this March.

Microscopic image of mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacteria that causes tuberculosis.

Photo: Microbe World (Flickr)

Mycobacterium tuberculosis, pictured here, is the bacteria that causes tuberculosis. Several drug resistant strains exist worldwide, including at least one completely untreatable strain.

Danger In The Discovery Void

Global action is needed to fill a drug “discovery void” said Sallie Davies, chief medical officer for the United Kingdom, in a March 10 statement.

Infectious bacteria are evolving to resist antibiotic medications, and new medications aren’t being developed fast enough to keep up.

“Antimicrobial resistance poses a catastrophic threat,” Davies told Reuters. “If we don’t act now, any one of us could go into hospital in 20 years for minor surgery and die because of an ordinary infection that can’t be treated by antibiotics.”

Rising Concerns About CRE, E. Coli

Davies’ announcement comes as a new University of Minnesota study has revealed a dramatic increase in the number of infections caused by E. Coli strain ST131 — a strain immune to most antibiotics.

Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control has released a report this month indicating that American hospitals are experiencing a rise in carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) infections, which are resistant to even the strongest antibiotics.

“CRE are nightmare bacteria. Our strongest antibiotics don’t work and patients are left with potentially untreatable infections,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden in a recent statement.

The CDC has also issued another report detailing the emergence of completely drug-resistant tuberculosis in South Africa.

Read More:

  • Drug-Resistant Bacteria And Lack Of New Antibiotics Pose “Catastrophic Threat” (Nature)
  • Study: “Dramatic Increase” Of Infections Caused By Drug-Resistant E. Coli (US News)
  • Antibiotic Resistance A “Catastrophic Threat” – UK Medical Chief (Reuters)
Sarah Gordon

Sarah Gordon has been interested in food ethics since she was 15, learned about industrial slaughter, and launched into 10 years of vegetarianism. These days, she strives to be a conscientious omnivore. Now a PhD candidate in folklore, her research has caused her to spend a lot of time in the remote Canadian sub-arctic, where the lake trout (sustainably harvested) tastes amazing.

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