Scientists have warned that there are less than a handful of treatments in the pipeline to combat the increase of suerbugs resistant to the most powerful antibodies.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) said antibiotic abuse for humans is increasing resistance and threatening to return the world to an era before the discovery of penicillin in the 1920s.
Around 25,000 people die annually of antibiotic resistant bacterial infections in the European Union, according to WHO.
The warning has come after the Health Protection Agency (HPA) revealed it had recorded 88 cases of bacteria with NDM-1 – short for New Delhi metallo-beta-lactoamose – in the UK so far. Most of the patients were found to have links to India.
The Lancet Infectious Diseases has published the research, which shows that the disease-causing bacteria has been found in New Delhi’s drinking water supply.
Dr David Livermore, director of the HPA antibiotic resistance monitoring and reference laboratory, said: “So much of modern medicine – from gut surgery to cancer treatment, to transplants – depends on our ability to treat infection.
“To keep ahead it is vital that we conserve what antibiotics we have – using them carefully and prudently – and that pharmaceutical companies and regulators support the development and licensing of new antibiotics,” he said.
Copyright © Press Association 2011