United Nations: A Post-Antibiotic World Will Lead To Millions Of Deaths

Courtesy of the U.S. Navy

By 2050, superbugs could kill 10 million people annually—more than all cancers combined.

In March 2016, Debbi Forsythe, from Morpeth, Northumberland, contracted a urinary tract infection—a common disease that affects over 150 million people worldwide each year. She was prescribed the usual treatment of a three-day course of antibiotics and was expected to be cured in no time. But after a few weeks, she fainted and began passing blood, and her general practitioner again prescribed trimethoprim.

Three days later, Forsythe was rushed to the emergency room. Doctors put her on a second antibiotic, gentamicin, to no success.

Five days later, she was diagnosed with an infection of multi-drug-resistant E coli and treated with ertapenem, a so-called "last resort” antibiotic. It worked, but Forsythe still is haunted by the possibility of future serious infections. Half a year after her initial hospital visit, she developed another UTI that again resulted in a hospital stay.

Antimicrobial resistance, the process in which bacteria become immune to the drugs we use to treat them, has become declared a "global health emergency" by the UN. So-called "superbugs" affect 2 million Americans each year. In May 2016, a report by the UK government predicted that superbugs could kill 10 million people per year by 2050.

“We have a good chance of getting to a point where for a lot of people there are no [effective] antibiotics,” leader of the Global Health team at Nesta Daniel Berman said.

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