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Antibiotics useless by 2015

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'Minor infections will kill'

By Alexandra Williams

HUMANS will be resistant to ALL antibiotics in 12 years, a leading scientist warned yesterday.

And the crisis could turn diseases and minor infections that are easily treated now into killers. Even pricking your finger in the garden could be life-threatening.

Professor Hugh McGavock said: "It is catastrophic. It is probably worse than Aids." He blamed "gross over-prescribing" by doctors and in the farming industry over the last 50 years.

The overuse of antibiotics has led to the evolution of bugs that are now resistant to standard medicines, such as penicillin.

Prof McGavock, of the University of Ulster, added: "The result of increased use is the normal bacteria which are killed by antibiotics have come under threat so that those bacteria which have been able to develop resistance have flourished and prospered.

"We are faced not just with resistance to one antibiotic but multi-drug resistance. If things go on as they are, by 2015, at the latest, we are going to have a situation where thousands of people will die from relatively simple infections which nowadays are totally curable by antibiotics.

"I am talking about children, teenagers, people in the prime of life. They will die from pneumonia, they will die from septicaemia.

"Someone will prick his finger in the garden and six days later will be dead from septicaemia.

"As many as one in 1,000 people will die in the UK as a result of infections we can't treat."

He claimed the majority of operations would have to be stopped because antibiotics were needed for surgery.

The professor said the record numbers suffering from superbug MRSA was proof that the problem was already beginning.

MRSA, in hospitals and care homes, is resistant to most antibiotics and can kill. More than 7,000 people were hit last year.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said: "The Chief Medical Officer has identified antibiotics as an area for action." A new strain is being developed which makes it harder for bugs to become immune.

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