WHO: Prepare for 'End of Medicine as We Know It'

Antibiotic-resistant microbes pose increasing threat, says director
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Mar 16, 2012 9:30 AM CDT
Margaret Chan, director general of the World Health Organization.   (AP photo/Keystone, Salvatore Di Nolfi)

(Newser) – More and more microbes are evolving to resist antibiotics—and that means that all we thought we knew about medicine may soon change, says the head of the World Health Organization. "A post-antibiotic era means, in effect, an end to modern medicine as we know it. Things as common as strep throat or a child's scratched knee could once again kill," Margaret Chan told infectious disease experts in Denmark.

"Replacement treatments are more costly, more toxic, need much longer durations of treatment, and may require treatment in intensive care units," she said, according to the Independent. Drug-resistant germs can hike mortality rates by 50%, she added. Indeed, some 25,000 die yearly in the EU from antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections. So what can we do? Chan calls for more careful prescription of antibiotics as well as limiting the use of the drugs in animals. "We cannot allow the loss of essential microbials, essential cures for many millions of people, to become the next global crisis."

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