WHO report highlights antibiotic resistance threat

| May 1, 2014

report cover cropThe World Health Organisation (WHO) has published a new report on antibiotic resistance in bacteria, which it says reveals a “serious, worldwide threat to public health.”

The report examines data from 114 countries and concludes that widespread antibiotic resistance in pathogenic bacteria is now a current, rather than a future, problem and can affect people in any part of the world. It calls for urgent action to head off the possibility of a “post-antibiotic era,” in which common infections become untreatable once more.

Key findings include global resistance to “last resort” carbapenem antibiotics in the common intestinal bacterium Klebsiella pneumoniae – a common cause of hospital-acquired infections – and widespread resistance to clinically important fluoroquinolone antimicrobials in E. coli. Fluoroquinolone resistance has also been identified as a potential problem in certain foodborne pathogens, notably Campylobacter and Salmonella, isolated from poultry and other food animals.

The report focuses mainly on the use of antibiotics in a clinical environment and provides guidance on tackling resistance for health workers. However, it also includes a section on antibiotic resistance in food animals and highlights serious gaps in surveillance and data sharing and the need for a “multisectorial approach” to contain antibiotic resistance in the food supply chain.

The full report, Antimicrobial Resistance: Global report on surveillance, can be downloaded from the WHO website here.

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