Antibiotic Resistance Is Now Rife across the Entire Globe

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A first-ever World Health Organization assessment of the growing problem calls for rapid changes to avoid the misery and deaths of a potential "post-antibiotic era".

Dangerous antibiotic-resistant bacteria and other pathogens have now emerged in every part of the world and threaten to roll back a century of medical advances. That’s the message from the World Health Organization in its first global report on this growing problem, which draws on drug-resistance data in 114 countries.
 
“A post antibiotic-era—in which common infections and minor injuries can kill—far from being an apocalyptic fantasy, is instead a very real possibility for the 21st century,” wrote Keiji Fukuda, WHO’s assistant director general for Health Security, in an introduction to the report. The crisis is the fruit of several decades of overreliance on the drugs and careless prescribing practices as well as routine use of the medicines in the rearing of livestock, the report noted.
 
Antibiotic resistance is putting patients in peril in both developing and developed countries, as bacteria responsible for an array of dangerous infections evolve resistance to the drugs that once vanquished them.
 
Gonorrhea, once well treated by antibiotics, is once again a major public health threat due to the emergence of new, resistant strains. Drugs that were once a last resort treatment for the sexually transmitted disease—which can lead to infertility, blindness and increased odds of HIV transmission if left untreated—are now the first-line treatment and are sometimes ineffective among patients in countries such as the U.K., Canada, Australia, France, Japan, Norway, South Africa, Slovenia and Sweden.
 
Drugs to treat Klebsiella pneumoniae—a common intestinal bacteria that can cause life-threatening infections in intensive care unit patients and newborns—no longer work in more than half of patients in some countries. And fluoroquinolones, drugs used to treat urinary tract infections, are also ineffective in more than half of sufferers in many parts of the world. Efforts to limit the spread of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, malaria and HIV are also all under threat due to increasing bacterial resistance.
 
Although the development of resistance is to be expected over time, overuse of the drugs has accelerated the process by supplying additional selective pressure, noted the report, which was authored by an extensive team of researchers with WHO. And there are few drugs to replace the ones that are now ineffective: The last entirely new class of antibacterial drugs was discovered 27 years ago, according to the report.
 
WHO warns that the situation could have sweeping effects on global medicine, economics and societies unless global actions are taken swiftly. A dearth of effective antibiotics will mean that infected patients will need more extensive care, require longer hospital stays and die in greater numbers.

Written By: Dina Fine Maron
continue to source article at scientificamerican.com

12 COMMENTS

  1. That’s evolution! Fascinating, harsh and not necessarily to our liking or suiting our purpose. God pesterers everywhere thank your god for the marvellous world he gave you to live in……. then suffer and die because that’s what he intended all along (just so that he can save your soul of course).

  2. Really? Man, what a surprise! I mean I wish we (humans) had some set of ideas, call it a “theory” that could adequately predict things like this so that we (humans) could troubleshoot and act proactively before worldwide suffering rules the day.

    Wait a minute……..

  3. What if there were groups of people, call them “scientists” that studied such phenomena and then reported out to the general population when things were taking turns for the worse? I mean, these folks could be, I don’t know, TRAINED in some area of “specialty” and then LISTEN to their findings???

    Global what???

    • In reply to #3 by crookedshoes:

      What if there were groups of people, call them “scientists” that studied such phenomena and then reported out to the general population when things were taking turns for the worse? I mean, these folks could be, I don’t know, TRAINED in some area of “specialty” and then LISTEN to their findings???…

      I heard a lecture by one of these people we call “scientists” – at a university agricultural college, speaking on drug resistant pathogens being created by the routine use of antibiotics in feeds for intensive chicken houses and in barley-beef and pig rearing!

      That was in 1964!

      Some people (especially legislators on the need for business regulation) are VERY slow learners (or just plain corrupt! ).

  4. Scary stuff. As if global warming, pollution, rapid extinction of key species in our oceans, overpopulation and depletion of world’s food and freshwater supplies weren’t enough of a threat already. Now this…

    Recently, I saw a documentary on PBS about the rise of MDR tuberculosis in Swaziland. There, the rate of infection reaches epidemic proportions and most of the victims are children and young adults… it was both heartbreaking and disquieting to watch but it was also quite an eye-opener.

    Nobody can say we didn’t see it coming though. We just didn’t listen to those who were trying to warn us.

    • In reply to #7 by Neodarwinian:

      I wonder if animal feed antibiotics could equal the over prescription of antibiotics to people?

      Or the over consumption of antibiotics by patients who demand a prescription for viral infections.

    • In reply to #7 by Neodarwinian:

      I wonder if animal feed antibiotics could equal the over prescription of antibiotics to people?

      Careless spillages or treated food, probably have similar effect to under-dosage by people failing to finish the course once they feel better.

  5. ‘The last entirely new class of antibacterial drugs was discovered 27 years ago, according to the report.’

    The next entirely new class of antibacterial drugs was probably mowed down by a forest eating tractor and made into paper

  6. In reply to #3 by crookedshoes:
    Call me captain obvious, but it seems to me there’s a disconnect between recommendations reached through scientific consensus, and law makers or governments actually listening to and implementing those recommendations.

    What if there were groups of people, call them “scientists” that studied such phenomena and then reported out to the general population when things were taking turns for the worse? I mean, these folks could be, I don’t know, TRAINED in some area of “specialty” and then LISTEN to their findings???…

  7. U.S. drug firms move to bar antibiotic use in livestock growth – http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/26/us-fda-antibiotics-idUSBREA2P2AA20140326

    (Reuters) – U.S. regulators on Wednesday said that 25 out of 26 drugmakers that sell antibiotics used in livestock feed for growth enhancement have agreed to follow new guidelines that will make it illegal to use their products to create beefier cattle, heftier hogs and other outsized animals.

    The companies – which include Eli Lilly & Co’s Elanco Animal Health unit, Bayer Healthcare LLC’s animal health division and Zoetis Inc – have agreed to start the process of removing any growth promotion claims on their products’ labeling, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

    The FDA announced the guidelines in December, as part of an ongoing bid to stem a surge in human resistance to certain antibiotics. Although the guidelines are voluntary, agency officials have said they expect drugmakers to fully adhere and to narrow their products’ use.

    Now 50 years late, they are now going to “crackdown” with a voluntary code which the FDA “expects” drugmakers to fully adhere to, reducing their sales and profits! …. Or as explained below: – …

    Costs of Eliminating Subtherapeutic Use of Antibioticshttp://books.nap.edu/openbook.php?isbn=0309054346&page=179

    Used subtherapeutically, antibiotics result in enhanced growth rates and improved feed efficiency, thereby contributing to lower costs of meat and eggs. However, this practice also is associated with the development of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria that contribute to the presence of drug-resistant pathogens in humans, as discussed in Chapters 3 and 6.

    It is frequently suggested that, because of the resistance issue, subtherapeutic use of antibiotics should be banned. The main arguments against a ban are that it would cause an economic hardship for livestock and poultry producers and raise costs for consumers. In large part, subtherapeutic feeding of antibiotic drugs is a management tool to prevent infection and to facilitate the use of confinement housing. This practice allows larger numbers of animals to be maintained in a healthy state and at a lower cost per unit to the farmer. If subtherapeutic use of antibiotic agents were eliminated, these production advantages would be reduced or lost and consumers would pay more.

    So as can be seen with standards taking the usual race to the bottom in the absence of effective regulation, there is money involved in competitive pricing, so there are those who listen to scientists, and then there are those who listen to accountants! – (“Damn the future! Think of the quick profit and undercutting the competition!”)

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