More than 25,000 people in EU countries now die from infections which are resistant to treatment with antibiotics, the World Health Organisation said.
The WHO warned that the world was "on the brink of losing it's miracle cures" unless governments made a concerted effort to fight the emergence of new superbugs.
“In the absence of urgent corrective and protective actions, the world is heading towards a post-antibiotic era, in which many common infections will no longer have a cure and, once again, kill unabated,” said WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan.
The warning comes as the Health Protection Agency reported it had recorded 88 cases of bacteria carrying the NDM-1 gene in the UK, most of them from patients linked to the Indian subcontinent.
Bacteria carrying the NDM-1 gene produce an enzyme that destroys carbapenems, a major group of antibiotics used to treat difficult infections in hospitals.
New research published in the Lancet Infectious Diseases today shows that the NDM-1 gene is widespread outside the hospital environment in Delhi, circulating in bacteria that inhabit drains and tap water, as a result of sewage contamination.
The researchers, from Cardiff University, also identified 11 new species of bacteria carrying the NDM-1 gene, including strains which cause cholera and dysentery.
Dr David Livermore, director of the HPA's antibiotic resistance monitoring and reference laboratory, said: "So much of modern medicine – from gut surgery to cancer treatment, to transplants – depends on our ability to treat infection.
"If resistance destroys that ability then the whole edifice of modern medicine crumbles. It’s vital to grasp that fighting the emergence of resistance is fighting evolution itself.
"To keep ahead it is vital that we conserve what antibiotics we have – using them carefully and prudently – and that pharmaceutical companies and regulators support the development and licensing of new antibiotics.”
Source: Yahoo Lifestyle
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