Millions of routine operations could become life threatening, experts have warned as a rise in drug-resistant bacterial infections risks pushing medicine “back to the dark ages”.
Too many people are putting themselves, their families and vulnerable members of the public at risk by taking antibiotics when they’re not needed, Public Health England (PHE) has said.
In a new report, the health body said bacterial infections of the blood stream which are resistant to at least one major antibiotic group have risen 35 per cent in four years.
The data shows that in 2013, when warnings about antibiotic resistance were first sounded by PHE, there were 12,250 resistant infections diagnosed – but that had risen to 16,504 in 2017.
PHE has calculated that if antibiotics become ineffective then three million operations and cancer treatments would become life threatening.
Some surgeries and cancer treatments require antibiotics to prevent infections, including caesarean sections and hip or knee replacements.
England’s chief medical officer Professor Dame Sally Davies warned that “without swift action to reduce infections, we are at risk of putting medicine back in the dark ages”.
PHE said antibiotics are essential for treating serious bacterial infections but the drugs are frequently used where they’ll have no effect.