Health experts are warning that people will soon develop untreatable infections as the number of resistant superbugs increase across the world.
A new article in the Lancet Infectious Diseases journal has cautioned the over-use of existing medicines. An anti-biotic resistant strain of the E.coli bacteria has been shown under an electron microscope, leading to fears that infected patients may become untreatable.
Professor Laura Piddock of the School of Immunity and Infection at Birmingham University and president of the British Society for Antimicrobial Therapy said:
‘It’s impossible to say how many people will be affected, and whether it will be days, weeks, months or years, but it’s going to happen – there will definitely be people that will get untreatable infections.’
Yesterday, the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (EDC) said that in some countries, up to half of all cases of blood poisoning caused by K. pneumoniae were resistant to carbapenems, the most powerful class of antibiotics.
In fact, the percentage of carbapenem-resistant K. pneumoniae has doubled across Europe from 7 per cent to 15 per cent. Experts have said that this is particularly worrying because carbapenems are the ‘last-line’ in treatment of multi-drug resistant infections.
Strains of E.coli resistant to antibiotics fluoroquinolones also increased in 2010. Additionally, 70 patients in the UK have been identified as carrying NDM-1-containing bacteria, an enzyme that destroys carbapenems.
But the general public seem widely unaware of this threat. Recently, the Health Protection Agency released a survey showing half of patients visiting their doctor with respiratory infections still expect to get an antibiotic.
Professor Dame Sally Davies, the Government’s chief medical officer, said new guidance going out to doctors and nurses will urge them to ‘think hard’ before prescribing antibiotics.
Superbugs are widely prevalent in the NHS, with infections like MRSA and C. difficile claiming many lives across the UK. One way of avoiding contracting a superbug is with private medical insurance. Medical insurance will give you treatment in a private hospital, virtually free from hospital related superbugs.
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