The danger posed by growing resistance to antibiotics should be ranked along with terrorism on a list of threats to the nation, the government's chief medical officer for England has said.
Professor Dame Sally Davies described it as a "ticking time bomb".
She warned that routine operations could become deadly in just 20 years if we lose the ability to fight infection.
Dame Sally said: "If we don't take action, then we may all be back in an almost 19th Century environment where infections kill us as a result of routine operations. We won't be able to do a lot of our cancer treatments or organ transplants."
"We haven't had a new class of antibiotics since the late 80s and there are very few antibiotics in the pipeline of the big pharmaceutical companies that develop and make drugs," she said.
Antibiotic overuse is a massive problem for two main reasons:
- Antibiotics are being overprescribed by the medical profession.
- Antibiotics are being fed to intensively raised feedstock animals to minimize the diseases which would otherwise result from the appalling conditions so many are raised in. In fact, roughly 80 percent of U.S. sales of antibiotics are made to the Industrial Agriculture market.
Both of these are preventable abuses which we are doing virtually nothing to prevent.
A predicable consequence is that antibiotics are becoming less effective by the day.
It is insane to feed antibiotics to animals for purely preventative reason when we know the consequences will be so dire.
What surprised and disturbed me was finding quite how far antibiotic resistance has already progressed.