A recent report from the New York Times shows that an antibiotic-resistant bacterial infection sweeping through India could be a sign of what’s to come globally, given the widespread overproduction and over-prescription of antibiotics.
Infants in India are increasingly born with bacterial infections that are resistant to most antibiotics, and almost 60,000 died in 2013 because of this resistance. Pediatricians there say that “the rising toll of resistant infections could soon swamp efforts to improve India’s abysmal infant death rate. Nearly a third of the world’s newborn deaths occur in India.”
Dr. Vinod Paul, chief of pediatrics at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences and leader of the infection study, said that improving the infant mortality rate in India is crucial and if “resistant infections keep growing, that progress could slow, stop or even reverse itself. And that would be a disaster for not only India but the entire world.”
As Salon pointed out, 85 percent of doctors in the US reported having treated a patient with “a confirmed or suspected antibiotic-resistant infection.” Health officials constantly warn about the horrifying effects that these infections pose.
Earlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control Director Thomas Frieden cautioned that drug-resistant infections could be the “next pandemic.”
“We talk about the pre-antibiotic era and the antibiotic era. If we’re not careful we will soon be in the post-antibiotic era,” said Frieden. “And, in fact, for some patients and some pathogens, we’re already there. Antimicrobial resistance has the potential to harm or kill anyone in the country, to undermine modern medicine, to devastate our economy and to make our healthcare system less stable.”
Other hypotheses from the study in India include that “resistant infections in newborns may be origination from the maternal genital tract and not just the environment,” and that tuberculosis there “may soon become untreatable.”
In September, the Obama administration created an “executive task force and presidential advisory committee dedicated” to antibiotic resistance and called for “new regulations to make sure there is appropriate oversight of the use of antibiotics in hospitals.” However, these much-needed actions did nothing to address the use of antibiotics in livestock, which accounts for 80 percent of all antibiotics sold in the US, according to the National Resource Defense Fund.