18 Oct 2015

Antibiotic misuse could spell danger - professor

12:56 pm on 18 October 2015

The rise of antibiotic resistant bacteria is fast becoming a major global health issue, with some predicting that in the near future many people will die of common infections that are currently easily treatable.

Human neutrophil ingesting Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a bacteria that is resistant to many antibiotics.

Human neutrophil ingesting Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a bacteria that is resistant to many antibiotics. Photo: National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Teams of researchers around the world are trying to come up with solutions to this problem, including Otago University professor Tony Kettle, who is leading a team of scientists in a search to find new ways of treating antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections

Professor Kettle told Radio New Zealand's Sunday Morning programme that antibiotics could become useless against infections within 10 years unless we change the way we use them.

"For a long time now we have been a bit cavalier about the way we use antibiotics and this has allowed many bacteria to become resistant to them."

He said there were two types of antibiotics: those that kill bacteria and those that slow their growth.

He said doctors prescribing antibiotics without a clear diagnostic had led to a growth in those resistant bacteria.

"This is posing a real problem internationally, where there are many serious diseases that are no longer controlled properly by antibiotics."

He said the best example of this was tuberculosis, which had been rife in the 1940s and 1950s, and was now re-emerging due to antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

He said in 2012, there were more than 450,000 cases of antibiotic-resistant worldwide.

Professor Kettle said scientists were currently developing better diagnostic techniques so doctors could prescribe a drug specific to the particular bacteria.

crucial to come up with newer, more effctive drugs ...

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