Science and Tech


WHO Says Antibiotic Resistant 'Superbugs' Now Global Threat

The agency says drugs to treat diseases like tuberculosis and gonorrhea have been rendered practically useless by the diseases' drug resistance.
Posted at 12:28 AM, May 01, 2014

The World Health Organization released a report Wednesday about the effectiveness of modern medicines and it's generating some scary headlines.

"The world may be heading to a post antibiotic era. Modern medicines can no longer stand up to common infections like pneumonia, E. coli and MRSA." (Via Al Jazeera)

"Why? Well, it's the overuse of antibiotics and it has made us dangerously prone to all kinds of infections." (Via NBC)

The WHO says antibiotic resistance has now become a world-wide threat — which means even the smallest infections could be untreatable in the future unless "significant" measures are taken. (Via BBCAl Jazeera, Time)

The report points to disease-carriers like parasites, viruses and bacteria that are becoming immune to our drugs. Most notably: bacteria which causes urinary tract infections, pneumonia, bloodstream infections and gonorrhea.

In particular, in 2012, WHO reported 450,000 cases of tuberculosis in 92 countries where multiple drugs used to treat it were rendered useless. (Via U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)

And, gonorrhea may eventually have no treatment at all because no vaccines or new drugs are in the works. (Via Wikimedia Commons / Public Library of Science)

WHO Assistant Director-General Dr. Keiji Fukuda said they're collaborating with several organizations to promote proper use of antibiotics, which, as we mentioned earlier, is a big part of the problem. (Via United Nations TV)

"Unless we take significant actions to improve efforts to prevent infections ... the world will lose more and more of these global public health goods and the implications will be devastating." (Via World Health Organization)

Health experts have known of a potential global pandemic for awhile – the spread of these so-called "Super Bugs."

Last year, Britain's Chief Medical Officer Dr. Sally Davies — who's widely-cited and even gave a TED Talk about it — described the problem as a "ticking time bomb" and that it's arguably "as important as climate change." (Via TED)

"This is an increasing issue. We're seeing multiple drugs' resistance as well, particular in TB, where patients become almost untreatable." (Via The Telegraph)

WHO emphasized proper hygiene, clean water use and using only the antibiotics prescribed by certified health professionals as small steps you can take to prevent infections and resistance.