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Drug-Resistant Infections Will Kill Millions

The widespread development of antimicrobial resistance may lead to ten million deaths from drug-resistant infections by 2050.
Drug-Resistant Infections Will Kill Millions
Doctors Pushing Patient on Gurney

Experts for the United Nations have just issued an alarming analysis about drug-resistant infections. In 2019, 230,000 people will die from multi-drug resistant tuberculosis. Almost half a million more will die from other infections that don’t respond to antimicrobial treatment.

Death Toll from Drug-Resistant Infections to Hit 10 Million:

In the next couple of decades, the experts expect that number to reach 10 million deaths each year. The human and economic toll from superbugs will become staggering.

The CDC has identified C. diff, carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriacea and gonorrhea as urgent threats in the US. The director of the UN Interagency Coordination Group on Antimicrobial Resistance, Dr. Haileyesus Getahun, has termed the situation “a silent tsunami.”

Bacteria are not the only organisms that have evolved to evade the medications we use to treat them. Recently, a common fungus, Candida auris, has developed resistance to most antifungal medications.

What Can We Do About Drug-Resistant Pathogens?

The UN panel is calling for a coordinated global initiative to phase out the use of antimicrobials in animal feed; invest in new technologies to overcome drug resistance; and regulate the inappropriate use of antibiotics. All of these steps would reduce the development of further drug-resistant infections.

Learn More:

You may wish to listen to some of the interviews we have done on related topics, including Show 948: Superbugs, Stethoscopes and New Technologies to Prevent the Spread of Infection

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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