Get ready to crawl into a hole, forever: Gonorrhea, urinary tract infections, and pneumonia are just some of the infectious diseases that are becoming resistant to antibiotics, a new report finds. The newly-released World Health Organization document finds that in every region of the world, the growing rate of antimicrobial and antibiotic resistance is a serious threat to human health. Minor infections that were once considered beaten could kill again, and lengthier stays in hospitals and higher healthcare costs are a near-guarantee.
We no longer have to wait to live in a world where antibiotic resistance routinely fails, because we’re already there and heading in a “post-antibiotic era,” according to Dr. Keiji Fukuda, WHO’s assistant director-general for health security. Serious, potentially fatal diseases including diarrhea, blood infections (sepsis), pneumonia, and (take a deep breath here) urinary tract infections and gonorrhea are all becoming resistance to antibiotics, even the “last resort” antibiotics used when all else fails. Overuse and misuse of antibiotics are to blame, including instances where people don't finish a course of treatment, allowing germs to linger — which can be worse than never taking the antibiotics at all.
Reports of resistance to UTI medicine are particularly alarming because it has happened so quickly. When UTI medicine was first introduced in the 1980s, resistance to them was “virtually zero”; now, there are parts of the world where treatment is basically ineffective, the WHO said. When more than 1 million people are infected with gonorrhea everyday, pause for a moment to think about the fact that treatment for the disease has failed for more than half of patients in several countries in recent years, including Canada, France, and the U.K. In 2011, gonorrhea was the second most commonly reported infection, with 322,000 cases, reports Maggie Fox at NBC News.
To tackle resistance, WHO suggests taking antibiotics only when prescribed, taking them for the full course prescribed, and not sharing antibiotics or using leftover prescriptions. But staying inside and avoiding all human contact forever is also another option to consider.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.