UK medical chief says antibiotic apocalypse is near

first_imgIf you are sick, the hospital is the last place you want to be. With a depressed immune system, a huge complex filled with every available bug-carrier sounds like an absurd choice of living space, but our use of antibiotics has historically kept that danger in check. This week, the UK’s Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies said that by flooding hospitals (and the population at large) with antibiotics, we have invited an antibiotic “apocalypse” that will fundamentally change our way of life.The current use of antibiotics is based on the idea that by dousing our patients with high concentrations of infection-fighting drugs we leave bacteria with no ground to go to. However, when we subject all these trillions of harmful cells to a single life-or-death hurdle, at least a few will invariably make it over and find a fertile land with no competition.Dame Davies attempted to hit home how serious the problem is to a committee of British parliamentarians. She used global warming as an example, stating we might never see its effects if we start dying from routine infections due to there being no treatments left. She pointed out that there remains only one effective antibiotic for gonorrhea, and that several other diseases are showing increasingly resistant tendencies both in hospitals and the world.So what can we do about it? Partly, we can all follow the damned instructions on the prescription bottles. Completely finishing a course of antibiotics, even after symptoms abate, will help to ensure no hardy individuals can survive to pass on their partial resistances. However, Davies makes it clear that the responsibility to change weighs just as heavily on the medical profession, saying that over-reliance on antibiotics must end, or the accelerated rate of evolution we’re seeing today will continue without end.Davies will present all her findings in an annual report this March.via BBClast_img read more