The reckless and unprecedented overuse of antibiotics worldwide has contributed to the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, the so-called superbugs. At the beginning of the last century, diseases attributable to bacterial infections were the leading cause of death in Canada. During the last three decades, the diagnosis, prevention, and management of infectious diseases had progressed considerably thanks to the discovery of antibiotics.
Today, once again, we find ourselves in a precarious situation with respect to infectious diseases.
The rapid global emergence and spread of highly resistant bacteria are widely regarded as one of the greatest threats to medicine and the health of the world’s population, jeopardizing the many medical advances made in the 20th century.
Canada is also affected
Modern medicine is not viable without effective antibiotics. Infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria increase both disease intensity and mortality rates and generate huge social and economic costs.
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) estimates that up to 50% of human infections in industrialized countries may be caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria, also known as superbugs.
Antibiotics-resistant bacteria will become a real threat by 2050
For its part, the World Health Organization (WHO) has reported an increase in the mortality rate of two to three times higher in cases of antibiotic-resistant infections.
In the absence of measures taken against antibiotic-resistant bacteria, the recent reports estimate that 10 million deaths will be registered due to resistant bacteria by 2050, worldwide. Also, the same reports estimate the costs between present days and 2050 could reach the impressive level 100,000 billion dollars for treating patients affected by antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
The reckless and unprecedented overuse of antibiotics worldwide, not only in humans but also in animals raised for food and agricultural production, has contributed to the emergence of these strains of bacteria resistant to antibiotics.
The good news is that increased awareness regarding this problem has triggered a global response that is rapidly gaining momentum and Canada has an important role to play, too.
In conclusion, the gloomy prediction regarding the threat of the antibiotic-resistant bacteria might be turned around but it will take some time to develop and implement countermeasures, worldwide, so, until then, antibiotic-resistant bacteria (superbugs) will continue to represent a threat.