People are being urged to “treat themselves with antibiotics with respect” amid concerns about deaths from complaints that should be treated.
The number of people dying from antibiotic-resistant infections rose last year, and experts warn that “due to the increase” of drugs used to fight sepsis are not working.
The head of the UK Health Safety Agency (UKHSA), Dame Jenny Harries, has warned that common diseases could one day become incurable amid the superbug crisis.
It comes after figures showed a recent sharp rise in antibiotic prescriptions after years of decline.
According to the UKHSA, 58,224 people in England had an antibiotic-resistant infection in 2022, a four per cent increase on 2021.
The figures showed a recent sharp rise in antibiotic prescriptions after years of decline. According to the UKHSA, 58,224 people in England had an antibiotic-resistant infection in 2022, a four per cent increase on 2021.
Figures published by the UKHSA show that antibiotic use in England fell from 2014 to 2020, with a sharp drop in 2020. However, this trend has reversed, with prescriptions increasing by 8.4 per cent last year
Of these, 2,202 people died, compared to 2,110 in the previous 12 months.
Figures released by the body show that antibiotic use in England fell from 2014 to 2020, with a steeper drop in 2020.
However, this trend has reversed, with the number of prescriptions increasing by 8.4 percent last year.
Dr Colin Brown, Deputy Director of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) at the UKHSA, attributed the decline in antibiotic-resistant infections from 2018 onwards to the Covid pandemic and the changes it caused in people seeking healthcare and spreading infection.
He added: “Unfortunately, we have seen an increase in antibiotic-resistant infections again in 2022 compared to what we saw before.”
WHAT IS ANTIBIOTIC RESISTANCE?
General practitioners and hospital staff have been administering antibiotics unnecessarily for decades, encouraging once-harmless bacteria to become superbugs.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has previously warned that if nothing is done, the world is moving into a “post-antibiotic” era.
It claims that common infections such as chlamydia will become killers without immediate solutions to the growing crisis.
Bacteria can become resistant to drugs when people take the wrong doses of antibiotics or if they are given unnecessarily.
The former chief medical officer, Dame Sally Davies, claimed in 2016 that the threat of antibiotic resistance was as serious as terrorism.
Figures estimate that superbugs will kill 10 million people every year by 2050, with patients succumbing to once-harmless bugs.
About 700,000 people already die annually from drug-resistant infections, including tuberculosis (TB), HIV and malaria worldwide.
Concerns have been repeatedly raised that medicine will be returned to the “dark ages” if antibiotics become ineffective in the coming years.
In addition to existing drugs becoming less effective, only one or two new antibiotics have been developed in the last 30 years.
In 2019, the WHO warned that antibiotics were “disappearing” as a report revealed a “severe shortage” of new drugs in development.
Without antibiotics, C-sections, cancer treatments and hip replacements will become incredibly ‘risky’, it said at the time.
“We still haven’t seen the proportion of resistant infections, which is still quite strong, about one in five bloodstream infections, and we’re also seeing an increase in resistance associated with some antibiotics used to fight bloodstream infections and sepsis.” ‘
The chance of dying from an antibiotic-resistant infection within 30 days rose from 19 percent to 20 percent in 2022, compared with drug-susceptible strains, which had a 16 percent rate.
People over the age of 64 had the highest rate of bloodstream infections caused by resistant pathogens, followed by babies under one year of age.
The UKHSA data also showed that those in the lowest socioeconomic groups were more likely to have an antibiotic-resistant infection compared to those in wealthier groups, while Asian and British Asian people were more likely to be affected.
Dr Brown said: “We are currently working to understand the factors behind this and what we can do to tackle any trends we have identified.”
Dame Jenni added: “Antimicrobial resistance is not a crisis of the future, but one that is with us right now.
“We expect that if we get a bacterial infection, an antibiotic will be available to treat it, but sometimes, already, that’s just impossible.”
“Unless action is taken, the availability of life-saving treatments will only decrease and our ability to reduce infections will decrease, most likely to affect those in the poorest social circumstances the worst.”
Ms Jenny urged people to reduce the spread of infections by avoiding vulnerable people if you feel sick, washing your hands regularly and ventilating rooms.
“It’s not just about protecting your own health, it’s about helping everyone in our communities,” she added.
“Second, take antibiotics only if your health care provider tells you to.” Save some for later or share with friends and family.
“Antibiotics will not work for viruses such as colds, flu or Covid.
“Treat antibiotics with respect and they will be there to help us all in the future.”
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