New Zealand's leading microbiologist said the country may be set back 100 years when disease-causing bacteria will eventually become immune to antibiotics. According to Dr Siouxsie Wells, she agrees with the findings of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in a report that within 10 years, antibiotics will no longer be effective in treating bacterial diseases.
Dr Wells said the report reflects what microbiologists and clinicians have believed for years. WHO has released a report after its first global survey of the rise of drug-resistant bacteria. The international organisation said it has discovered high levels of E-coli bacteria that did not respond to antibiotics. The bacteria can cause problems to the kidneys, blood and skin including meningitis.
WHO said several countries have observed that treating the bug with antibiotics has become useless in more than half of the patients. The report also found alarming rates of resistance in other types of bacteria that cause gonorrhea and pneumonia.
Wells said New Zealand is at risk since not enough money is being invested in research and technologies to develop alternatives to antibiotics. Although the country is in a good position to monitor diseases, Wells said New Zealand is still exposed to the risk of disease-causing bacteria.
Wells painted a picture of a world going back 100 years where surgery was impossible or can turn into something risky. He said injuries like a compact fracture on the rugby field could mean either amputation or death to the player. Chemotherapy and other medical procedure to reduce the immune system become impossible.
The WHO report was not meant to incite fear, according to Wells but it should be treated as a way for people to pay attention and be aware of the global situation.
In New Zealand, a man has died from an antibiotic resistant bacteria in November 2013. At 68 years old, Brian Pool is believed to be the first victim of the superbug in New Zealand.
While Pool was in Vietnam last January 2013, he had a stroke and undergone surgery. He was flown to the hospital in Wellington where doctors discovered he was carrying a strain of bacterium resistant to antiobiotics known as Klebsieall Pneumoniae. The hospital placed Pool under quarantine for six months. He died in July due to health complications after a stroke.