Fears of infections pandemic grow after NINETEEN new superbugs are discovered in UK including germs which attack the blood, kidneys and bowels
- Germs that attack the blood, kidneys and bowels have evolved past antibiotics
- They threaten a pandemic of untreatable infections, according to officials
- Public Health England today announces a five-star strategy to address problem
Nineteen new forms of lethal superbugs have been found in the UK, a major report reveals today.
Officials said germs which attack the blood, kidneys and bowels had evolved ways to breach the last line of antibiotic defences – threatening a pandemic of untreatable infections.
Public Health England, which today announces a five-year strategy to address the ‘urgent threats’ of infectious diseases, said it had discovered 19 ‘new genetic mechanisms of antibiotic resistance’ in its labs in ten years.
Officials said germs which attack the blood, kidneys and bowels had evolved ways to breach antibiotic defences – threatening a pandemic of untreatable infections (file image)
The superbugs, found in 1,300 different samples taken from patients, meant infections could not be treated by ‘antibiotics of last resort’ such as carbapenems and colistin.
The bacteria, which include new forms of the MRSA, gonorrhoea and enterococcus bugs, cause urinary tract infections, sexually transmitted diseases, kidney problems and bowel disease.
In each case, doctors were able to use experimental unlicensed drugs, a combination of old medicines or high doses to save lives.
But speaking at the annual Public Health Conference in Warwick, infectious diseases expert Dr Susan Hopkins, of Imperial College London, warned: ‘The doomsday scenario is that we can’t treat patients.’
She said health authorities are desperately trying to avoid a ‘tipping point’ in which drugs stop working against common infections.
The bacteria, which include new forms of the MRSA, gonorrhoea and enterococcus bugs, cause urinary tract infections, sexually transmitted diseases, kidney problems and bowel disease (file image)
She added that in some southern European countries, such as Italy and Greece – where antibiotic resistance is a bigger problem – doctors can no longer carry out bone marrow transplants in case a patient gets an untreatable infection.
Dr Hopkins told doctors at the conference that they all needed to take responsibility for reducing unnecessary use of antibiotics, which is driving the problem.
‘There’s no point in pointing the finger over there [at other medical professionals] – we are all personally responsible and professionally responsible and we all need to take action together.’
Dr Hopkins told doctors at the conference that they all needed to take responsibility for reducing unnecessary use of antibiotics, which is driving the problem (file image)
Professor Alastair Hay, a GP and professor of primary care at the University of Bristol, said the UK was in the top quarter of nations in Europe for reducing antibiotic prescriptions but lagged behind the best countries, such as Germany and the Netherlands, where prescribing rates were around a third lower.
Meanwhile Professor Chris Whitty, who will become the Government’s chief medical officer next month, said: ‘Despite our arsenal of vaccines and antimicrobials, infectious disease remains a real threat to public health.
‘We are constantly faced with new threats, and antimicrobial resistance is growing. This new strategy will enable us to detect and prevent new threats as they arise.’
PHE’s new infectious diseases report, which sets out the strategy to address urgent health threats from 2020 to 2025, also reveals that 12 new diseases were detected in England for the first time in the past decade.
These include pandemic ‘swine flu’, Middle East respiratory syndrome, Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever and monkeypox.