NEARLY 20 new lethal superbugs have been identified in the UK, a major report reveals.
Officials warn the steep rise in drug-resistant bacteria raises the real prospect of untreatable infections spreading across Britain.
England’s top doctor warns superbugs could kill ten million people a year unless drastic action is taken[/caption]
England’s top doc has already warned superbugs could kill ten million people a year unless drastic action is taken.
Prof Dame Sally Davies, the nation’s chief medical officer, said the rise of drug-resistant infections is a bigger threat than climate change.
Officials blame antibiotic overuse for 5,000 superbug deaths in the UK each year.
The latest worrying findings were revealed in a new strategy aimed at keeping deadly infections at bay.
Public Health England released a five year plan aimed at tackling “urgent threats”.
Among them were 19 new superbugs identified in the past decade, including mutant forms of MRSA, gonorrhoea and enterococcus.
The bacteria can trigger urinary tract and bowel infections, sexually transmitted diseases, and kidney problems.
The drug-resistant bugs – found in 1,300 different patient samples – meant sick Brits failed to respond to “antibiotics of last resort” such as carbapenems and colistin.
Medics were instead forced to use unlicensed drugs, combine old medicines, or ratchet up the dosages to save their patients’ lives.
Speaking at the PHE annual conference [must keep] in Warwick, infectious diseases expert Dr Susan Hopkins said: “The doomsday scenario is that we can’t treat patients.” She warned patients in some southern European countries, such as Italy and Greece, can no longer have bone marrow transplants because they carry superbugs.
And said officials were working hard to prevent a similar scenario in the UK.
Antibiotic overuse is blamed for fuelling the rise of drug-resistant infections.
The drugs only work against bacterial conditions, such as meningitis and pneumonia.
But they are pointless against coughs, colds and sore throats triggered by viruses.
Professor Alistair Hay, a GP and professor of primary care at the University of Bristol, said Britain was in the top quarter of nations in Europe for reducing antibiotic prescriptions.
He said: “Primary care is a key contributor to anti-microbial resistance, there’s no question about that…we could do better.”
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The new infectious disease strategy also reveals 12 completely new diseases were detected for the first time in the last decade, including Middle East respiratory syndrome and monkeypox.
Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Scientific Adviser for the Department of Health, said: “Despite our arsenal of vaccines and antimicrobials, infectious disease remains a real threat to public health. We are constantly faced with new threats, and anti-microbial resistance is growing.
“We have the ability to keep disease at bay but we must continuously update our response and expertise. This new strategy will enable us to detect and prevent new threats.”
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