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Rise of Antibiotic Resistant Bugs will Make Common Infections Deadly: Says UK Medical Official

Mar 11, 2013 08:03 AM EDT

Common antibiotics in the next 20 years could be useless, even in protecting people from common wounds, let alone fighting severe infections, according to Chief Medical Officer from the U.K.

England's Chief Medical Officer professor Dame Sally Davies announced that urgent global action is required to handle the threat of newer microbes getting resistant to common antimicrobial agents. The statement came along the second volume of the Chief Medical Officer's annual report that was published recently.

According to data from the World Health Organization, some 440,000 cases of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) occur every year. These new infections which have gotten resistant to drugs cause some 150,000 deaths.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that the threat of microbes getting resistant to a drug isn't isolated to any country, but is a problem faced by the entire world. The U.S. for example faces some real danger from methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Recently, the agency announced the rise of nightmare bacteria - carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae - that have become resistant to the last-resort antibiotics called carbapenems.

The latest report from the U.K. on these antimicrobial resistant organisms highlights the fact that there have been few antimicrobial agents that have been developed in the past 20 odd years, even though a new kind of infectious disease has been discovered almost every year, according to the news releae.

"Antimicrobial resistance poses a catastrophic threat. 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. And routine operations like hip replacements or organ transplants could be deadly because of the risk of infection," said Dame Sally Davies, England's Chief Medical Officer in a news release from the Department of Health.

Davies added that politicians, governments, and other agencies like the World Health Organization need to take these new, antimicrobial resistant infections more seriously and that the pharma companies along with governments must work together to fill in the "discovery void" by finding new drugs to treat infections. 

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