The post-antibiotic era is near, according to a report released today by the World Health Organization (WHO). The decreasing effectiveness of antibiotics and other antimicrobial agents is a global problem that requires the establishment of a surveillance system to monitor its worldwide spread, the group says.
There is nothing hopeful in the WHO report, which pulls together research papers estimating antibiotic resistance in 129 member states to show extensive antibacterial resistance in every region of the world. Overuse of antibiotics in hospitals and in agriculture, to promote livestock growth, quickly select for bacteria that resist the drugs, while human movement and poor sanitation practices contribute to the spread of genes that confer resistance.
The report finds that, in some areas of the world, more than half the infections caused by Gram-negative bacteria such as Escherichia coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae contain bacteria resistant to carbapenem drugs, the so-called antibiotics of last resort.
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