Antibiotics Overuse could Become Life Threatening

1Key points

Australian health authorities are warning the world faces a post-antibiotic era where simple childhood illnesses could again become deadly.

  • Australian health experts “deeply alarmed” by US woman’s death from antibiotic-resistant infection
  • Simple childhood diseases could become deadly
  • More action needed to curb antibiotic use in animals and humans

The death of a woman in the United States in January from an infection that could not be treated by any antibiotics has left Australian health experts “deeply alarmed”.

In a strongly worded editorial in the Medical Journal of Australia, president of the Australasian Society for Infectious Diseases, Professor Cheryl Jones, said the woman’s death “may herald a post-antibiotic era in which high-level antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is widespread, meaning that common pathogens will be untreatable”.

She said if that happened, all areas of healthcare would be affected. Simple childhood infections would once again be life-threatening events, major surgery would be associated with high mortality, chemotherapy for cancer and organ transplantation would no longer be possible,” she said.