America’s Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has issued an alert on the rapid spread of antibiotic resistant superbugs through hospitals and nursing homes, and says the world is on the brink of no longer being able to treat or cure common bugs like urinary tract infections or infected wounds.
The alert focuses on the prevalence of so-called CRE superbugs, or carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, which are immune to even the toughest antibiotics on the market.
While recent studies have found that people with high vitamin D levels have a lower risk of infection, or that New Zealand manuka honey is effective at killing skin infections caused by superbugs, the risk to the public is growing rapidly, warns the CDC.
“These are nightmare bacteria that present a triple threat,” Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told the media. “They’re resistant to nearly all antibiotics. They have high mortality rates, killing half of people with serious infections. And they can spread their resistance to other bacteria.”
The CDC says in 2001 only just over one percent of the common Entero-bacteria class of bugs were resistant, now that figure has jumped exponentially to more than four percent. Complicating the issue is that the bacteria can pass their resistance on to other even more common bugs.
“Perhaps the greatest threat from CRE is its ability to share its resistance genes with other bacteria. So although CRE’s spread is somewhat limited today, it could potentially share its resistance with far more common bacteria, such as E. coli, Frieden told USA Today. If that happened, common conditions affecting millions of Americans, which are now treated with antibiotics — such as diarrhea, urinary tract infections, respiratory conditions and pneumonia — could become untreatable.”
Doctors are already having to amputate infected limbs because antibiotics are no longer effective, and the alternative is death for the patient. The CDC warns the world may be moving into what it calls “the post-antibiotic era”.