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This anonymous woman is only the latest casualty in a war against antibiotic-resistant bacteria — a war that we are losing. Although most bacteria die when they encounter an antibiotic, a few hardy bugs survive. Through repeated exposure, those tough bacteria proliferate, spreading resistance genes through the bacterial population. That’s the curse of antibiotics: The more they’re used, the worse they get, especially when they’re used carelessly.

Already, more than 23,000 people in the United States are estimated to die every year from resistant bacteria. That death toll will grow as microbes develop new mechanisms to defeat the drugs that, for decades, have kept infections at bay. We are on the cusp of what the World Health Organization calls a “post-antibiotic era.”

And we will miss antibiotics when they’re gone. Minor scrapes and routine infections could become life threatening. Common surgeries would start looking like Russian roulette. Gonorrhea and other sexually transmitted infections might become untreatable. Diseases that our parents defeated — like tuberculosis — could come roaring back. The economic costs would be staggering: In September, the World Bank estimated that between 1.1 and 3.8 percent of the global economy will be lost by 2050 if we fail to act.

… Read More

Image: By Dr Graham Beards at en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=25206097

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NY Times

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