WHO: Antibiotic Misuse Poses Global Threat, Report Warns
In its first report on antimicrobial resistance, the World Health Organization warned that misuse of antibiotics worldwide is creating "superdiseases" that are resistant to current drugs, the Washington Times reports. According to David Heymann, WHO's director of communicable diseases, 50% of all antibiotics in the United States are administered to animals and plants rather than to sick humans. Western countries tend to overuse antibiotics, creating resistant strains of diseases, while in less developed countries, people take insufficient amounts of antibiotics, leaving the strongest, most virulent strains to multiply, he said. "Almost all infectious diseases are slowly but surely becoming resistant to existing medicines," WHO reported (Barber, 6/13). The report notes several examples of health challenges created by the misuse of antibiotics:
- In the United States, about 14,000 people die annually from drug-resistant microbes that infect them in hospitals;
- in India 10 years ago, typhoid could be cured with three inexpensive drugs. Today, those drugs are "largely ineffective" and
- in Eastern Europe and areas of Russia, more than 10% of all tuberculosis cases are resistant to current antibiotic treatments.