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Drug-resistant bacteria
April 30th, 2014
03:34 PM ET

World Health Organization: Antibiotic resistance is now a reality

The drumbeats about the dangers of antibiotic resistance just got louder. The World Health Organization says antimicrobial resistance which includes drug-resistant bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites is seen in every region of the world.

"The picture is consistent," says Dr. Keiji Fukuda, assistant director-general for health security at the WHO. "The capacity to treat serious infections is becoming less all over the world. ... This is something which is occurring in all countries of the world."

Antimicrobial drugs are one of the foundations of modern health care something we all hope to rely on when we get sick with ailments including pneumonia, urinary tract or blood infections, diarrhea or sexually transmitted diseases, Fukuda says. These infections occur worldwide on a daily basis.

But because of overuse or misuse or improper use of existing treatments, the ability to fight these infections is getting harder and harder, he says.

In its first global report on antimicrobial resistance, released Wednesday, the WHO says " a post-antibiotic era in which common infections and minor injuries can kill is a very real possibility for the 21st century."

Fukuda uses gonorrhea as an example. He says the disease affects about 1 million people each day, and there are at least 10 countries where it is untreatable by any antibiotic.

It isn't the first time these alarms bells have rung. Last year the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention started ranking superbug alert levels. Instead of red, orange or yellow the levels once used to describe terrorism threats the CDC is using "urgent," "serious" and "concerning."

Conservative estimates in the United States alone suggest 2 million people get antibiotic-resistant infections each year, and at least 23,000 die because current drugs no longer stop their infections. The WHO cannot provide global statistics, Fukuda says, because many countries have no estimates at all or conduct surveillance of resistance to superbugs. Only 22 countries provided data on surveillance for this report.

Bacteria and other microbes have been humans' worthy opponents for a long time. But drug developments, such as the discovery of penicillin and the emergence of other antibiotics, transformed medical care and dramatically reduced illness and death from infectious diseases.

But in mere decades, with the overuse of antibiotics to raise bigger pigs and cattle and people failing to take prescribed drugs for the entire time, microbes have turned into superbugs for which medical weapons are quickly dwindling and thus turning into deadly, unstoppable killers around the globe.

Some people may wonder why they should worry. Fukuda says that anyone who gets a serious infection, develops cancer and needs chemotherapy or requires any kind of surgery could be in a bad situation with no drugs left to treat them. The same is true for premature babies or malnourished children.

"Bottom line," says Fukuda, "we should expect to see that there are going to be some people who have untreatable infections."

The WHO says there's a need for a global action plan, including:

– better use of vaccines;
basic hand hygiene to reduce infections, such as washing hands;
reduction of non-health uses of antimicrobial drugs;
- support of research that will lead to new and better diagnostic tests;
and better surveillance, to get a better overall global antimicrobial resistance.

The report included data from 114 countries.


soundoff (37 Responses)
  1. wadej420

    what about banning the use of antibiotics in animal agriculture. is that not a freaking game plan at all.

    April 30, 2014 at 17:48 | Report abuse | Reply
    • cara

      Agreed. It's blatantly obvious that they didn't list the main reason for antibiotic resistance.

      April 30, 2014 at 21:14 | Report abuse |
    • Pat

      WHO cannot ban the use of antibiotics in agriculture. The problem with their use is highlighted in their report.

      May 1, 2014 at 10:16 | Report abuse |
    • whatnow2

      Because that would require regulations and over sight. Heaven forbid we should do anything in this country to business, they might not' trickle down' a job. However, to be fair, the US is a country of pill poppers. We want a pill for absolutely everything. That has to stop.

      May 1, 2014 at 10:31 | Report abuse |
    • gobsmacked

      Well, actually they did cite that in the article:

      "But in mere decades, with the overuse of antibiotics to raise bigger pigs and cattle and people failing to take prescribed drugs for the entire time, microbes have turned into superbugs for which medical weapons are quickly dwindling – and thus turning into deadly, unstoppable killers around the globe."

      And then they say antibiotics should not be used anymore for non-health reasons. But yeah, you had to read pretty far down to see it.

      May 1, 2014 at 20:02 | Report abuse |
    • Alan Carter

      The jump of antibiotic resistance from animals to human pathogens is tenuous at best, believe it or not most people do not get infections from animals found in the farm belt.

      May 2, 2014 at 08:10 | Report abuse |
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      May 4, 2014 at 23:15 | Report abuse |
  2. JGN

    Hmmm.
    "Only 22 countries provided data on surveillance for this report" VS "The report included data from 114 countries."
    Well, which is it? And if the first, only 22 countries, then why say "This is something which is occurring in all countries of the world"? While this SHOULD be an article of interest to everyone, bad reporting and worse editing which is rampant on this and most other US news sources makes us LESS concerned with what the report is saying than we are with the twisted convolutions of syntax and continuity.
    Everyone who is not living in a cave has known that antibiotics are losing their efficacy due to overuse (or, as the article so incredibly redundantly states, "overuse, misuse or improper use..."
    Buy a vowel, people. Get some competent reporters and editors in!

    April 30, 2014 at 18:24 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Laura S.

      Please also tell them that "extended-spectrum-lactamase" is not a microorganism and that "clindamycin-resistant Group B Strep" is not a superbug, among other problems.

      April 30, 2014 at 21:42 | Report abuse |
    • Wes

      There are only 22 countries that tally up that specific problem, but there are other things and reports that the report draws from, those could come from 1 or all 114 of the other countries mentioned..... you complain about the report because you obviously do not have the brain power to understand it.

      May 2, 2014 at 03:34 | Report abuse |
  3. Joan

    Treating every single strep 2 B positive birthing mother with antibiotics is also contributing to this, to a huge degree. 20 to 40 % of all mothers fall into that category, thus this proportion of newborns in the US come into the world with a completely wiped out gut flora. This practice, solely practiced in the US and also extremely coercively, should seriously be reconsidered.

    April 30, 2014 at 22:49 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jake

      The drug companies would have to reconsider their profit margins. Antibiotics create BIG profits because they are so- prevalent and prescribed without a 2nd thought

      May 1, 2014 at 10:16 | Report abuse |
  4. VivKay

    There is a peak in anything as nothing, like antibiotic use, can keep growing forever. The use of anti-biotics in intense animal farming is relied on to keep the animals heavily confined inside. There must be a pay-back time for the benefits of cheap food. Everything else in the world is peaking, so it must be "peak", and decline, of anti biotics and back to more natural systems.

    April 30, 2014 at 23:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. mickinmd

    60% of all antibiotics are used on farm animals. Cut them and I'll tell my doctor I want to avoid antibiotics unless absolutely necessary.

    May 1, 2014 at 07:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. EyeSore (a.k.a Timmy Suck=face) "The Medical Cartel Puppet"

    EyeSore kissed his way up to CEO at a health insurance company. Now I take over $1,000,000 of your health care dollars for NO VALUE ADDED to your health care. And that’s just me. Now think about how many other CEOs, VPs, Directors, Managers, etc. are at my company alone. Now multiply that by thousands of others at hundreds of other health insurance companies. From 10 to 25% of your health care dollars go towards administration that ADDS NO VALUE to your health care. But my company’s PAC dollars will continue to fool you little people into thinking that a single payer system will be bad. Little people like you are so easy to fool. Little people also don’t realize that a single payer system is the ONLY system that would allow little people (as an entire country) to negotiate better health care prices. Little people don’t realize that the Medical Cartels already know that. And that is the reason why the Medical Cartels spend so much PAC money from the hospitals and doctors lobbying against a single payer system. Some little people say that a single payer system would cost you little people more. But if that were true, then wouldn’t the hospitals and doctors WANT that extra money? Yes they would. So why do the Medical Cartels lobby against a single payer system? It’s because the Medical Cartels know it would allow little people to negotiate better health care prices. And that’s what the Medical Cartels are afraid of. Period.
    But us big wigs at insurance companies, hospitals, and pharmacy companies don’t ever need to worry about health care no matter what it costs. We get our health care paid for one way or another by you little people. And we get the little people that work at our companies to contribute to our PACs. And us big wigs say it’s to protect the little peoples’ jobs. But in reality it would be in the little peoples’ best interest to NOT contribute to the PAC. Again, little people are so easily fooled. I won’t ever have to worry about losing my job with so many little people being brain washed by the Medical Cartels’ PAC money. Not only that, the Medical Cartels’ PAC money is used to elect so many republicans that will never allow a single payer system. Republicans have always fought against any meaningful health care reform. But that’s what our Medical Cartels’ PACs pay them for. Politicians can be bought so easily.
    Pretty soon the only people that will be able to afford health care is us big wigs. And that’s the way it should be. We don’t want you little people using up the resources when we need them. And once again, I thank you little people for capping my SS tax at the $117,000 level. Now I only pay 1.17% SS tax and you little people pay 6.2%. Also, thank you for extending my tax breaks. I’m using the extra money on my vacation houses.

    May 1, 2014 at 08:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. RT Colorado

    Antibiotic resistance has been in the medical literature since the late 50's and early 60's. The hysteria over antibiotic resistant organisms is a real concern, but the facts have been distorted badly by folks with a particular agenda. The abilty of organisms to develop resistance to drugs is natural. Of course using antibiotics willy-nilly doesn't help, but as long evolution is in play, organisms will work out resistance to antibiotics. It's the law!
    By the way...a great read is "The Killers Within", it traces the history of resistance development.

    May 1, 2014 at 18:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Nobody of Consequence

      I didn't think people like you still existed, least of all on the Internet. Your comment has no political bent, no inflammatory undertones, and it renders as rather foolish the media's mission to convince us all that we are always in Very Real Danger. It is commendable, also, that you suggest a reading to those who would better educate themselves. It seems to me that a lot of people have made quite a mess of things whilst grappling with the abrupt and rather startling experience of being a human being, but I'd say you've done better than most. I wanted to thank you, in case no one else does.

      -BC

      May 2, 2014 at 01:59 | Report abuse |
    • Logan S.

      Watch out, there's somebody smart on the internet. I recommend that you run for your life as far you can from the internet, it has been overtaken by incompetent teenagers, Jesus loving senior citizen conservatives, and worst of all, low level intelligence beings. Anyway, kudos to you for having brainpower.

      May 3, 2014 at 09:49 | Report abuse |
  8. RT Colorado

    After reading the posts here...antibiotic resistance isn't the problem you should be concerning about.

    May 1, 2014 at 18:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. mom

    Do not take antibiotics unless you NEED them. Buy organic meats. Truly, it could save your life and that of your descendents.

    May 1, 2014 at 23:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Kelcy

    The Earth is due for a good pandemic to cleanse the human population. It is just up in the air whether humans will be kicked back 100, 500 or 1000 years back.

    May 2, 2014 at 00:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Kor

    Problem with drug companies is that yes they do make profit off sales but they aren't putting funds towards making non-antibiotic resistant antibiotics. They won't make money because most of it has to go through the FDA and testing. Not to mention that most antibiotics that we have to get a prescription for here in the USA other countries don't.

    May 2, 2014 at 00:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. joshsmith

    Since typical medicine is becoming less effective why don't we finally start doing some serious research into the use of bacteriophages to treat infections, its much more versatile than typical antibiotics anyways

    May 2, 2014 at 01:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. mcortes

    For a good majority of this semester, I have been working and researching on the dangers of mutated diseases for an honors English project in one of my classes. Yesterday I finally posted my video that I created about the dangers and making people become aware of the problem. I did not know that the day before I posted my video on Youtube, the W.H.O. posted about the threat that has become a reality about antibiotics. If you want to view my video, the link is here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7BxHKPuL1o8 I talked about what the W.H.O. just released.

    May 2, 2014 at 03:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Ian Welch

    No matter how the food industry spins it, you can’t get away from the deluge of news regarding the horrendous quality of meat in the U.S. The sources are not bloggers and hippies. The studies are peer-reviewed with massive study groups. Our own government, the last place you go for unbiased opinions, has recently made overt moves towards a diet less reliant on animals. No amount of lobbying can hold back the stream of research confirming the obvious. Meat is a “killing industry” for everyone involved.

    The animals being eaten today by Americans are in terrible shape, and represent a very poor quality of nutrition. Organic, free range, lean… blah, blah, blah. Six states have made it a crime to film animal suffering because they absolutely don’t want you to see beyond the pretty cellophane package in your freezer. The meat is inedible. If you saw the cow or chicken you are about to eat, you wouldn’t touch it, much less eat it.

    Do you honestly feel that an animal raised in a pen/crate, with no exercise, no sunlight, surrounded by feces, eating byproduct feed, injected with growth hormones, antidepressants and massive amounts of antibiotics, then slaughtered, sprayed with chlorine, full of death stress hormones is a good food decision?

    Not eating meat is not a casual decision anymore; it’s a matter of life or death

    Rest of comment: http://wholefed.org/2013/05/01/six-reasons-to-give-up-meat-adopt-a-plant-based-diet/

    Ian Welch

    May 2, 2014 at 11:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Brett Moore

    Scientists have been warning us about this impending crisis for some time now, and it looks like it is becoming a reality. Why did we need to overuse antibiotics? The worst part is very little investment has been made until recently to develop new classes of antibiotics. We really all need to be responsible for keeping ourselves in the healthiest condition that we can.
    1. I always eat a fairly healthy diet, I like eating super foods, antibiotics, (and have some wine), also fruits and nuts.
    2. I usually take a multivitamin 1-3x a week to make sure I maintain healthy levels of all major nutrients. (Studies have shown once a day to be too often to take multivitamins).
    3. Exercise never hurt anyone. Even light lifting or walking is beneficial to keeping you strong.
    4. And then I prepare for the worst just in case. I have 2 very beautiful daughters and a wife who I adore with all my heart to keep safe. I have life insurance on my life (its pretty cheap, I pay about $19 a month from Life Ant insurance for 400K, and I have it on my wife's life so the family will be ok if anything happens to one of us (and we would struggle otherwise for sure).
    I also keep plenty of first aid supplies, I know CPR and how to dress wounds, and most everything else is out of my hands. I feel much better knowing that I have done all that I can to make my family safe and sound.

    May 3, 2014 at 16:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Amer65

    If companies would more considerate of their workers, then parents would run to the doctor everytime their childre have the sniffles. On the same note, if day care centers and schools would realize that young children would likely get a fever from the common cold or a new teeth and not require parents to take their children home, but would allow them to take Children Motrin or Tylenol during the day..then we wouldn't have these issues. Being sick and having to go to school with a cold is not the end of the world but a life lesoon. No, if the child is vomiting or in pain, keep them home, but most children ca still play and function with a cold. And lastly, parents need to get over themselves and take care of the children when they are sick and cancel that ight out with friends, or that vacation without the children...you decided to have children, then your wants and need should come second to theirs! IF you don't, then won't when you need them!

    May 5, 2014 at 07:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. johncamars

    Reblogged this on John Caleb Reyes.

    May 5, 2014 at 14:29 | Report abuse | Reply
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  19. Timmy Suck-face

    I got fired from my job at an insurance company and now I soothe myself by posting gibberish ad nauseam whenever a new story pops up on CNN. I am an immature kid who has no self-control and that's how I came to lose my job. I am stuck on stupid ever since Sarah Palin and the rest of the GOP lost the election–they are the enemy and now I don't know what to do with myself all day. I have no job and my party won, so my life is empty. Wahhhh.

    April 30, 2014 at 17:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Eyesore votes against his own interests

    Eyesore – Everytime you contribute to your medical cartel's PAC you are voting against your own interests. That is if you really are a "registered Democrat" as you claim to be (but you're NOT. You're a Palin voter). So why do you contribute to the medical cartel PAC?.

    May 1, 2014 at 08:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Seriously?

    Seriously? Where'd you come up with that crap? Did you vote for Palin? I thought so.

    April 30, 2014 at 19:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. No, Timmy, dear

    Not on your life, doofus.

    April 30, 2014 at 19:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. EyeSore voted for Palin

    EyeSore did vote for Palin. And he works for part of the medical cartels. Explain this to me. If a single payer system would cost the little people like you MORE, then wouldn't your medical cartel WANT the extra money? So why do the medical cartels' PACs spend billions lobbying against a single payer system?

    April 30, 2014 at 19:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. No, Timmy, dear

    Oh, look, how original. Anyone who isn't interested in little Timmy's thesis MUST be a shill. What an idjit.

    Nobody cares about your opinion, Timmy. You're boring and a troll.

    April 30, 2014 at 22:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Eyesore votes against his own interests

    Eyesore – Everytime you contribute to your medical cartel's PAC you are voting against your own interests. That is if you really are a "registered Democrat" as you claim to be (but you're NOT. You're a Palin voter). So why do you contribute to the medical cartel PAC?.

    You got one thing right in your post. You ARE Nobody. And if Nobody cares about my opinion, why do you have my post deleted? Here's why. The post is SPOT ON and any "registered Democrat" would know that and just let the comment be. Therefore, you ARE a shill.

    May 1, 2014 at 08:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. gobsmacked

    You again?

    May 1, 2014 at 20:09 | Report abuse | Reply

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