Siouxsie Wiles on the averting microbial apocalypse

Writing in the New Zealand Herald, University of Auckland Microbiologist Dr Siouxsie Wiles examines the issue of antibiotic resistance in the wake of a World Health Organisation global report.

Yellow globs of bacteria thrive in petri dish.  An excerpt (read in full here):

Siouxsie Wiles: Lack of research can seriously damage our health

Life as we know it could end in as little as 10 years if we don’t start taking drastic action.

This is the message to come out of a report released last week by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in its first look at global resistance to antibiotics.

Antibiotics are arguably one of the most important discoveries in medical history. In antibiotics we are exploiting the weapons produced as the result of an arms race that has existed between microbes for millennia. The first antibiotic was used to treat people in 1937 and it didn’t take long before the flipside of the antibiotic coin became apparent – that microbes can easily become resistant to these wonder drugs.

In fact, microbial resistance to penicillin was known before the antibiotic even came into clinical use. Latest estimates put the number of potential antibiotic resistance genes harboured by microbes at more than 20,000.

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