Experts fear diseases ‘impossible to treat’
Alarming rise in bacteria resistant to antibiotics, Government report finds
MONDAY 20 FEBRUARY 2012
Britain is facing a “massive” rise in antibiotic-resistant blood poisoning caused by the bacterium E.coli – bringing closer the spectre of diseases that are impossible to treat.
Experts say the growth of antibiotic resistance now poses as great a threat to global health as the emergence of new diseases such as Aids and pandemic flu.
Professor Peter Hawkey, a clinical microbiologist and chair of the Government’s antibiotic-resistance working group, said that antibiotic resistance had become medicine’s equivalent of climate change.
The “slow but insidious growth” of resistant organisms was threatening to turn common infections into untreatable diseases, he said. Already, an estimated 25,000 people die each year in the European Union from antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections.
“It is a worldwide issue – there are no boundaries,” he said. “We have very good policies on the use of antibiotics in man and in animals in the UK. But we are not alone. We have to think globally.” Between 2005 and 2009 the incidence of E.coli “bacteraemias” [the presence of bacteria in the blood] rose by 30 per cent, from 18,000 to over 25,000 cases. Those resistant to antibiotics have risen from 1 per cent at the beginning of the century to 10 per cent.