April 30, 2014
Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Is Now Growing All Over The World: WHO
Brett Smith for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Health officials have been stepping up their warnings about the overuse of antibiotics and how it could lead to the proliferation of drug-resistant strains of bacteria. Now, a new report from the World Health Organization (WHO) has found that antibiotic resistance is currently growing in every region of the world and has the potential to affect anyone on Earth.
“Without urgent, coordinated action by many stakeholders, the world is headed for a post-antibiotic era, in which common infections and minor injuries which have been treatable for decades can once again kill,” said Dr. Keiji Fukuda, WHO’s Assistant Director-General for Health Security. “Effective antibiotics have been one of the pillars allowing us to live longer, live healthier, and benefit from modern medicine. Unless we take significant actions to improve efforts to prevent infections and also change how we produce, prescribe and use antibiotics, the world will lose more and more of these global public health goods and the implications will be devastating.”
While the report took a comprehensive approach, it focused in particular on seven different common bacteria, such as those that cause bloodstream infections (sepsis), diarrhea, pneumonia, urinary tract infections and gonorrhea. WHO reported a high prevalence of drug-resistant E. coli, which causes significant and dangerous infections of the blood, kidneys and skin. The agency pointed out that there are many regions where treatment for the infection is useless in over one half of patients.
The WHO researchers said they were particularly troubled to find strains of bacteria that were resistant to powerful “last resort” antibiotics. One example was the discovery of drug-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae, a common bacterium found in the intestine.
“K. pneumoniae is a major cause of hospital-acquired infections such as pneumonia, bloodstream infections, infections in newborns and intensive-care unit patients,” according to a statement accompanying the report. “In some countries, because of resistance, carbapenem antibiotics would not work in more than half of people treated for K. pneumoniae infections.”
"We see horrendous rates of antibiotic resistance wherever we look...including children admitted to nutritional centers in Niger and people in our surgical and trauma units in Syria," said Dr. Jennifer Cohn, a medical director at Doctors Without Borders, in a statement. Currently, “our actions are just a shot in the dark,” she added.
To combat antibiotic resistance, the report suggested installing basic systems to follow and watch over the problem, which do not exist in many regions or countries. Although some countries have taken critical steps in dealing with the problem, every country and individual should do more, the international organization said.
Other crucial moves could include avoiding infections from happening in the first place by improving hygiene, availability to clean water, infection-control facilities, and vaccination rates. WHO also said new diagnostics, antibiotics and other resources would permit healthcare officials to stay in front of emerging resistance.
WHO said it is launching a new initiative to confront antibiotic drug resistance. This will include the expansion of resources and standards – as well as enhanced international collaboration to monitor drug resistance, assess effects, and design focused solutions.