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WHO Report: Antibiotic Resistance Has Spread Worldwide, Posing Major Public Health Risk

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(credit: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

(credit: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

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GENEVA, SWITZERLAND (CBS) – There’s some pretty scary news from the World Health Organization (WHO).

According to WHO’s first-ever global report on antibiotic resistance, antimicrobial resistance is no longer just a threat – it’s happening in every region of the world, and it could pose a major public health risk.

Antibiotic resistance refers to when bacteria change so that antibiotics no longer work in people who need them for treating infections.

The report focuses on resistance in seven different types of bacteria that cause common but serious problems like sepsis, diarrhea and urinary tract infections. The results are, as WHO calls them, “cause for high concern,” as resistance – particularly resistance to “last-resort” types of antibiotics – was found in all regions of the world.

In a release on WHO’s website, Dr. Keiji Fukuda, WHO’s Assistant Director-General for Health Security, says, “Without urgent, coordinated action by many stakeholders, 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.”

“Unless we take significant actions to improve efforts to prevent infections and also change how we produce, prescribe and use antibiotics, the world will lose more and more of these global public health goods and the implications will be devastating,” Dr. Fukuda continues.

In some parts of America, WHO says nearly 90% of Staphylococcus aureus infections were found to be methicillin-resistant, or MRSA, which means treatment with traditional antibiotics won’t work. E. coli and K. pneumoniae bacteria were also found to be resistant.

And antibiotic resistance isn’t just deadly, it’s also costly, forcing those with resistant infections to stay in the hospital longer and have more intensive care.

WHO emphasizes that “every country and individual needs to do more” to address the problem of antibiotic resistance. In addition to making sure people have access to clean water and vaccinations, WHO is calling for new diagnostics and antibiotics, as well as other tools to help people in the healthcare industry stay on top of drug resistance.

To see more information on the report on antibiotic resistance, click here.

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