Bacteria resistant to antibiotics have now spread to every part of the world and might lead to a future where minor infections could kill, according to a report published Wednesday by the World Health Organization.
In its first global survey of the problem, the WHO report warned that antibiotic resistance was no longer an abstract threat to deal with in the future, but one that, “is happening right now in every region of the world and has the potential to affect anyone, of any age, in any country.”
The report adds to a growing body of evidence and warnings from doctors, universities and health organizations about antibiotics. For years, many have said that without global action, antibiotic resistant bacteria will continue to increase globally, eventually rendering many antibiotics – which were once considered modern medical miracles – largely useless.
Unless there is urgent action, "the world is headed for a post-antibiotic era in which common infections and minor injuries which have been treatable for decades can once again kill," Dr. Keiji Fukuda, one of the agency's assistant director-generals, warned in a release.
The report said it found very high rates of drug-resistant E. coli bacteria, which causes problems including meningitis and infections of the skin, blood and the kidneys. The agency noted there are many countries where treatment for the bug is already ineffective in more than half of patients.