Antibiotics have been one of the major breakthroughs in modern medicine. We have Sir Alexander Fleming to thank for discovering them in the first place. However we could be on the verge of saying goodbye to them for good as antimicrobial resistance increases.
It is easy to underestimate the power antibiotics have to get rid of infections of all kinds.
We don’t worry about common infections nowadays, because we can always take a course of antibiotics to get rid of them.
Yet we must continue to come up with new drugs to kill the bacteria that cause these infections.
If we can do this, we can continue to rely on antibiotics, just as we have in the past.
No New Antibiotics Since the 1980’s
However, we haven’t managed to do it since the 1980s – some three decades ago.
So does this mean the world could soon be facing a real emergency – one we cannot treat and which costs life upon life upon life?
When we are still being prescribed antibiotics for all kinds of things, it is easy to assume this is all far in the future… yet this may not be the case at all.
Is Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria on its way!
Many of the bacterial infections that affect humans are often not seen as being too serious as they can be treated successfully with antibiotics.
However, some types of bacteria that are commonly found in our environments can cause very serious, potentially life threatening conditions if left untreated.
Some of the most dangerous include:
Many researchers, professors and doctors are already seeing a resistance (antimicrobial resistance) to some strains of bacteria.
If this is allowed to continue, we could indeed be on the verge of significant problems.
It would not be inconceivable for us to fall seriously ill if we were unable to rely on antibiotics to help us get better.
Animals, Antibiotics & Antimicrobial Resistance
It is also exceptionally important to reduce the instances of antibiotics being used in animal feed.
The use of antibiotics in commercial animal feeds has now been banned throughout Europe but is still going on elsewhere in the world.
And this too highlights another potential issue with antibiotics: Every country in the world has a different way of making them available.
In Other Parts of the World
We cannot get them without a prescription in the UK, but they are far easier to buy in other countries.
Certainly, there is a degree of casualness about antibiotics on the whole.
Many people assume (wrongly) that they will get rid of colds and flu, and yet these are viruses.
Antibiotics are incapable of killing viruses.
But still people are sometimes prescribed them – or get hold of them some other way – for such illnesses.
Clearly, the crisis that faces us as a global population is not one that will be solved in one single way.
A multi-pronged attack could be the only way we can resolve this crisis.
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