If giant plumes of gurgling methane don’t keep you up at night, then try this: England’s chief medical officer recently warned government officials that we are running out of antibiotics that are effective against drug-resistant bacteria.
This means that even the most innocuous infections that used to be knocked out by antibiotics could kill us since bacteria have adapted faster than we can produce new drugs, the BBC reports.
Prof Dame Sally Davies told a committee of MPs that even a routine operation can turn into a deadly ordeal since we are running out of antibiotics that can effectively combat increasingly resistant bacteria.
Prof Davies said: “It is clear that we might not ever see global warming, the apocalyptic scenario is that when I need a new hip in 20 years I’ll die from a routine infection because we’ve run out of antibiotics,” according to the BBC.
She is scheduled to submit a list of potential solutions amid calls for more resources devoted toward what the World Health Organization (WHO) corroborates as a growing problem that affects all reaches of the globe.
“Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is resistance of a microorganism to an antimicrobial medicine to which it was previously sensitive. Resistant organisms (they include bacteria, viruses and some parasites) are able to withstand attack by antimicrobial medicines, such as antibiotics, antivirals, and antimalarials, so that standard treatments become ineffective and infections persist and may spread to others,” the WHO states on their website.
“AMR is a consequence of the use, particularly the misuse, of antimicrobial medicines and develops when a microorganism mutates or acquires a resistance gene.”
Every year roughly 150,000 people die worldwide as a result of 440,000 new cases of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB), the WHO reports. And MRSA – commonly known as “staph” is responsible for a growing number of hospital deaths.
The Virginia State Department of Health warns that almost all important bacteria in the United States have also become resistant to antibiotics.
“Antibiotic resistance is due to the misuse and overuse of antibiotics. Antibiotics are often over-prescribed due to demands from patients, time pressure on physicians, and uncertainty about the diagnoses.”
So what can we do about it? Don’t use antibiotics unless absolutely necessary and make sure to use them exactly as the doctor prescribes them. Meanwhile, some farmers are turning to oregano oil to keep chickens disease-free.
Image of young boy with bacterial infection, Shutterstock