Brink of an antibiotic apocalypse?

Since the discovery of penicillin in 1928 the prevention and treatment of infections has been revolutionised, and many millions of lives have been saved.

Many different antibiotics were since developed and used. Unfortunately they have also been misused and overused, not just by humans but also with stock to improve production of meat.

The ability for new medical treatments to keep ahead of evolving bacteria is under serious threat.

Resistance of bacteria to antibiotics has become a major problem. Since 2009 only two new antibiotics have been approved in the US.

NZ Herald: The Big Read: Is the world on the brink of an antibiotic apocalypse?

Scientists are becoming increasingly worried about the threat of an antibiotic Armageddon but are Kiwis in the dark? As a week-long awareness campaign InfectedNZ kicks off, science reporter Jamie Morton talks to two leading Kiwi microbiologists.

Across the world, scientists and clinicians are becoming increasingly worried about bacteria and other pathogens, which are evolving to resist drugs at a rate outpacing the development of new medicines.

In a world without antibiotics, previously treatable infections will once again become deadly, or may require amputation to stop them in their tracks.

Because antibiotics are also used to prevent infection in vulnerable people, it will also become life-threateningly risky to perform routine operations such as caesarean sections and joint replacements, and treatments like chemotherapy for cancer.

In a series of recent reports commissioned by former British Prime Minister David Cameron, economist Sir Jim O’Neill estimated that without urgent action, antimicrobial resistance would kill 10 million people a year by 2050, more than will die from cancer.

Already, an estimated 700,000-plus people worldwide die each year due to drug-resistant infections.

But the effect could be much more devastating when even today’s easily-treatable diseases are found harder to combat.

As described it’s a big read, but an important one. It’s associated with a campaign this week.

New campaign launches

The new online campaign InfectedNZ, running this week, aims to boost awareness about the health, social and economic impacts of infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance across New Zealand.

The campaign will feature a series of research-driven blog posts and social media conversation.

It’s being hosted by Auckland University-based centre of research excellence Te Panaha Matatini, while data used in the discussions is collated and provided by Figure.NZ, a charity devoted to getting people to use data about New Zealand.

“We decided it was time we started a national conversation about infectious diseases and what we’re going to do about the looming antimicrobial Armageddon,” said Wiles, who has helped organise the campaign.

“That’s why we’ve asked leading health, social and economic researchers, and people with personal stories, to write for us this week at tepunhahamatatini.ac.nz and on social media with #infectedNZ.”

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More at InfectedNZ.