Antibiotics resistance a 'catastrophic' global threat, UK warns

March 11, 2013

Resistance to antibiotics is a 'catastrophic' global threat and should be ranked alongside terrorism as one of the biggest risks Britain faces, the government's chief medical officer said Monday.

Sally Davies called the problem a "ticking time-bomb", saying routine hip operations could become deadly within 20 years if humans lose the ability to fight infections.

She said the issue should be put on the government's national risk register, which also includes "catastrophic " and other civil emergencies.

The knighted professor urged Britain to raise the issue at a G8 foreign ministers' meeting in London next month.

"Antimicrobial resistance is a ticking time-bomb not only for the UK but also for the world," Davies said.

"We need to work with everyone to ensure the apocalyptic scenario of widespread antimicrobial resistance does not become a reality.

"This threat is arguably as important as for the world."

She added: "Antimicrobial resistance poses a catastrophic threat. If we don't act now, any one of us could go into hospital in 20 years for and die because of an ordinary infection that can't be treated by .

"Governments and organisations across the world, including the and G8, need to take this seriously."

She said there had been a "discovery void" in the field since 1987 and called for more innovation around antibiotics, saying diseases had evolved faster than the drugs to treat them.

Davies said infection was estimated to be costing England £30 billion ($45 billion, 35 billion euros) per year in state health service costs and the cost of missed days at work.

Britain's Department of Health said it will soon publish its Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy five-year action plan.

Explore further: A world without antibiotics?

Related Stories

A world without antibiotics?

April 7, 2011

Imagine a world without antibiotics. Common infections are life threatening. Pneumonia, urinary tract infections and venereal diseases are incurable. Cancer chemotherapies do not exist. The life expectancy for Canadian men ...

Growing concern over drugs fed to animals

September 19, 2011

Drugs fed to animals to promote growth and prevent diseases may play a key role in the emergence of antibiotic resistant bacteria, microbiologists said Sunday.

The rising threat of antibiotic resistance

January 10, 2013

A major European and global health issue is resistance to or inappropriate use of antibiotics. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) estimates that each year, antimicrobial resistance (AMR) results ...

Expert warning: Resistance to antibiotics to be apocalyptic

January 25, 2013

(Medical Xpress)—The chief medical officer for Britain's Department of Health has issued a warning that resistance to bacteria is a more urgent threat to humanity than global warming, with bacteria becoming resistant to ...

Recommended for you

Ebola virus mutations may help it evade drug treatment

September 11, 2015

Genetic mutations called "escape variants" in the deadly Ebola virus appear to block the ability of antibody-based treatments to ward off infection, according to a team of U.S. Army scientists and collaborators. Their findings, ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.