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Scientists: Superbugs on the Rise

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Scientists: Superbugs on the Rise

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Experts warn nations should prepare for future devastating outbreaks of superbugs unless they change the way antibiotics are used.

“Britain’s most senior medical adviser has warned [Parliament] that the rise in drug-resistant diseases could trigger a national emergency comparable to a catastrophic terrorist attack, pandemic flu or major coastal flooding,” the Guardian reported.

“Dame Sally Davies, the chief medical officer, said the threat from infections that are resistant to frontline antibiotics was so serious that the issue should be added to the government’s national risk register of civil emergencies. She warned of an ‘apocalyptic scenario’ where people going for simple operations in 20 years’ time die of routine infections ‘because we have run out of antibiotics.’”

These superbugs include gram-negative bacteria such as E. coli that “have built-in abilities to find new ways to be resistant and can pass along genetic materials that allow other bacteria to become drug-resistant as well,” according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“This is your own gut bugs turning on you,” Ms. Davies said in another Guardian article. “Between 10% and 20% are resistant to drugs. We do not yet know why they are on the rise, although some hospital procedures, such as the use of catheters, may be implicated.”

The CDC also reported a new “family of germs, dubbed CRE for carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae” in American hospitals that “evades some [of] the strongest antibiotics, making infections almost untreatable,” ABC News stated.

The article also explained that there is an increasing threat of drug-resistant E. coli, tuberculosis and sexually transmitted diseases.

“We might have to rely on intravenous or intramuscular treatments, meaning the patient would have to come in or someone would have to go to their home,” Chairman of Prevention at Vanderbilt University Medical Center Dr. William Schaffner said. “These people don’t want to be recognized in their home environment as having one of these infections, which a visit would kind of announce. So people will begin avoiding treatment. You have a spiraling series of problems.”

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