Superbugs May Push Us Into World Without Antibiotics

Return to 'preantibiotic era' may be inevitable
By Drew Nelles,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 7, 2008 1:11 PM CDT
Matt Redinbo, professor of chemistry at UNC-Chapel Hill, holds a bacterial enzyme that he is trying to inhibit to kill drug-resistant microbes, Thursday, Dec. 20, 2007, in Chapel Hill, N.C.    (AP Photo/Jonathan Fredin)
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(Newser) – Antibiotic-resistant microbes don’t just open us up to dangerous illnesses—they also cost the American economy well over $5 billion annually, the New Yorker reports. And one expert says around 70% of the antibiotics produced in the US wind up in agriculture: "We've created a petri dish in our factory farms for the evolution of dangerous pathogens."

A group of researchers reports that, with cases of untreatable infection on the rise, a “return to the preantibiotic era has become a reality in many parts of the world.” Experts are working hard to come up with alternatives to antibiotics, but it’s not easy. “As loud as my voice might be, there are louder voices screaming ‘AIDS,’ ” one says.