Not only do we need antibiotics to treat infections, we need them to prevent infections in the first place. Sadly, we have misused and abused antibiotics for decades and are now reaping the unwanted rewards.
Bacterial infections are common everyday medical problems that include urinary tract infections such as cystitis, lung infections such as pneumonia, and brain infections such as meningitis, to name a few. Since the discovery of penicillin and its first use in 1942, these miraculous antibiotics have become less and less effective as the bacteria that they are used to treat become resistant.
This is a major problem! Not only do we need antibiotics to treat infections, we need them to prevent infections in the first place in vulnerable people such as those undergoing cancer treatment, transplants, or with HIV. Moreover, almost every time you undergo an operation, an antibiotic is given before the cut is made to prevent an infection developing in the wound. So, losing these antibiotics is a big deal.
This is changing modern medicine as we know it, here and now, because without an antibiotic, your chances of getting an infected surgical wound skyrocket and its treatment is compromised. Cancer treatment becomes more dangerous, and transplants almost out of the question.
How deadly are antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections?
In the first of two papers, a huge consortium of scientists from across the world obtained data on bacterial infections and deaths for the year 2019. They found that just under 5 million people died with an associated antibiotic-resistant bacterial infection, and about 1.3 million of these deaths were directly attributable to the resistant bacteria in 2019. Unsurprisingly, the highest burden of deaths from antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections is felt in sub-Saharan Africa. Death is the ultimate price to pay, but the overall burden of illness that these resistant infections cause was also found to be highly significant.
Unlike the high income countries of Europe, North America and Australasia, low and middle income countries have not reaped as much of the benefit from industrialisation and social development that reduced the number of bacterial infections in high income countries during the 20th century – clean water and safe sanitation, robust vaccination programs, poverty reduction etc.
The second factor is that we have seen a massive increase in the use of antibiotics, in humans and in animals reared for food. The more antibiotics we use, the more bacteria become resistant to antibiotics.
Sadly, we have misused and abused antibiotics for decades and are now reaping the unwanted rewards.
Original source: https://www.news24.com