According to an article recently published in the UK newspaper The Independent, the world is being driven towards the “unthinkable scenario of untreatable infections”, owing to the rise of drug-resistant bacteria.
But the problem is far from a European one. The whole world is gradually being drawn into the nightmare of no more effective antibiotics.
Reports are increasing across the world, of patients with infections that are nearly impossible to treat. The European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC) said yesterday that in some countries up to 50 per cent of cases of blood poisoning caused by one bug – K. pneumoniae, a common cause of urinary and respiratory conditions – were resistant to carbapenems, the most powerful class of antibiotics.
The percentage of carbapenem-resistant K. pneumoniae has doubled from 7 per cent to 15 per cent. The ECDC said it is “particularly worrying” because carbapenems are the last-line antibiotics for treatment of multi-drug-resistant infections.
Marc Sprenger, the director, said: “The situation is critical. We need to declare a war against these bacteria.”
Tough words Marc. Trouble is, it comes out a bit hollow: declaring war when you’re out of bullets and shells!
In 2009, carbapenem-resistant K. pneumoniae was established only in Greece, but by 2010, it had extended to Italy, Austria, Cyprus and Hungary. The bacterium is present in the intestinal tract and is transmitted by touch.
Now it’s reared it’s ugly head in the USA and reached the West Coast by March of this year (2011). This week, CNN reported the emergence of carbapenem-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae (CRKP), a bug thought to be rare on the West Coast, in Los Angeles County. In seven months in 2010, there were 356 cases of CRKP, according to the county health department
Resistant strains of E.coli also increased in 2010. Between 25 and 50 per cent of E.coli infections in Italy and Spain were resistant to fluoroquinolones in 2010, one of the most important antibiotics for treating the bacterium.
This organism achieved (even more) notoriety when an outbreak in Germany killed hundreds, mainly through destroying their kidneys.
Folks, if you are not worried about this yet, you should be. I’ve been writing that the end of the “Golden Age of Antibiotics” is upon us.
Research has shown that more than 80 per cent of travellers returning from India to Europe carried the NDM antibiotics resistance gene in their gut.
Researchers speak of a “nightmare scenario” if the gene for NDM-1 production is spread more widely.
Of course things are no better in Asia or the USA. The current figure for the USA has reached 99,000 patients die each year as a result of hospital acquired infections alone. Contrast that with the state of play only 19 years ago (1992), when the figure was 13,300 patient deaths.
MRSA is only a half of it: we have resistant Klebsiella, Pneumococcus and Acetinobacter, as well as the old favorites, syphilis and gonorrhea.
According to researchers at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, more than 20 percent of the Klebsiella infections in Brooklyn hospitals are now resistant to virtually all modern antibiotics. And those supergerms are now spreading worldwide.
You need to be clear: In the United States, bacterial infections are a leading cause of death in children and the elderly (Howard BJ et al 1994). Hospitalized patients and those with chronic diseases are at especially high risk of bacterial infection (Murray et al 1998). Common bacterial infections include pneumonia, ear infections, diarrhea, urinary tract infections, and skin disorders.
The UK Health Protection Agency warned doctors last month to abandon a drug usually used to treat a common sexually transmitted disease because it was no longer effective. The agency said that gonorrhoea – which caused 17,000 infections in 2009 – should be treated with two drugs instead of one and warned of a “very real threat of untreatable gonorrhoea in the future.”
Discovering new medicines to treat resistant superbugs has proved increasingly difficult and costly – they are taken only for a short period and the commercial returns are low. The European Commission yesterday launched a plan to boost research into new antibiotics, by promising accelerated approval for new drugs and funding for development through the Innovative Medicines Initiative, a public-private collaboration with the pharmaceutical industry.
An estimated 25,000 people die each year in the European Union from antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections. Countries with the highest rates of resistant infections, such as Greece, Cyprus, Italy, Hungary and Bulgaria, also tended to be the ones with the highest use of antibiotics.
World Health Organisation scientists warned two years ago that overuse of antibiotics risked returning the world to a pre-antibiotic era in which infections did not respond to treatment. The warnings have been ignored.
Professor Laura Piddock, president of the British Society of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, said politicians and the public had been slow to appreciate the urgency of the situation. In prestigious journal The Lancet, she writes: “Antibiotics are not perceived as essential to health, despite such agents saving lives.”
She’s right. People have forgotten the “old days”; people are careless and foolish. It would be truly a nightmare to go to the way things were, even in my lifetime (just!), when you could catch a cold in the morning and be dead by the following afternoon.
The Department of Health published guidance aimed at curbing the overuse of antibiotics in hospitals, by avoiding long treatment and replacing broad-spectrum antibiotics with those targeted at the specific infection. Professor Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer, said: “Many antibiotics are prescribed… when they don’t need to be.”
I keep saying—and even many of my subscribers are still not listening—that you MUST get informed of workable alternatives. I’ve prepared a book you need to buy and READ.
It’s no use waiting until you or a loved one gets a resistant infection. There isn’t time to go “Googling” for options. Victims can die within HOURS.
Get yourself a copy NOW. Go here, get out your credit card and don’t hesitate. For less than a course of antibiotics, which probably won’t work anyway, you can have all that we know about safe and effective antibiotics alternatives.
And in case you are thinking “Yeah, yeah, right”, let me tell you… I have backed up my report with credible science (like the US Department of Agriculture) and quite a number of “alternative treatments” have proved as effective or even more so, than conventional antibiotics.
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