Superbugs could kill up to 90000 in three decades

Desiree Burns
November 9, 2018

Superbugs resistant to antibiotics will kill 2.4m people in Europe, Australia, and North America by 2050 if preventative measures aren't taken now.

This includes about 1.3 million deaths in Europe and 90,000 in Britain.

Its findings suggest 2,120 Britons die each year as a result of infections by eight resistant bacteria, equivalent to 3.27 deaths per 100,000 people.

Better hygiene, ending the "over-prescription" of antibiotics and enhancing rapid testing for patients to ensure they are being prescribed the right drugs are some of the measures that could overcome the threat, the OECD said.

The report found that the problem appears to be worse in low- to middle-income countries.

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The report warns that southern Europe risks being particularly affected, with Italy, Greece and Portugal forecast to top the list of OECD countries with the highest mortality rates from antimicrobial resistance.

Infectious bugs becoming drug resistant has been a problem since the discovery of penicillin, the first antibiotic, but it has become worse in recent years as some bugs have become resistant to multiple drugs.

Resistance to second and third-line antibiotics - which presents the most advanced and effective line of defence to prevent infections - is expected to be 70 percent higher in 2030, compared to AMR rates in 2005 for the same antibiotic-bacterium combinations, while resistance to third-line treatments will double in European Union countries.

Tim Jinks, a drug-resistance expert at the Wellcome Trust global health charity, said the OECD report showed "how simple, cost-effective surveillance, prevention and control methods could save lives".

Public Health England said antibiotics were essential for treating serious bacterial infections but the drugs were frequently being prescribed for coughs, sore throats and earache, which usually improve without the medication.

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