Rise Of Superbugs Threatens Antibiotic Crisis

Ian Sample | The Guardian | January 24, 2013

Lethal drug-resistant organisms mean threat must be listed on register of civil emergencies, says chief medical officer

An extraordinary scene plays out in hospitals across Britain that is a harbinger of crisis ahead. Patients brought in for routine operations pick up infections that until recent times seemed trivial. Now they can be killers. Even the most modern, and powerful, antibiotics can no longer save them. The story of the superbug MRSA raised awareness of the growing uselessness of antibiotics, but that has been brought largely under control through better hygiene, at least in the UK.

The rise of other lethal drug-resistant organisms, including salmonella, TB, and E coli, continues, and the chief medical officer, Dame Sally Davies, warned MPs this week the threat must be listed on the government's National Register of Civil Emergencies.

The problem is not a local one. In Davos on Thursday, health officials gathered for a session called "The dangers of hubris to human health", after the World Economic Forum listed antibiotic resistance in its Global Risks report this month. The meeting's aim was to reassess the risks posed by the abuse and misuse of antibiotics that make lethal bacteria immune to our best defences. The meeting acknowledged that the historic success of antibiotics has lulled us into a false sense of security...