Health experts warn of a ‘hidden pandemic’ of antibiotic-resistant infections

pharmafile | November 17, 2021 | News story | Research and Development  

UK health officials have warned that a ‘hidden pandemic’ of antibiotic-resistant infections could occur if people take antibiotics to fight common colds this winter.

As a sharp rise in social mixing is anticipated this Christmas, there will also be a rise in the prevalence of the common cold. The UK Health Security Agency has said that taking antibiotics to fight off cold symptoms could encourage harmful bacteria to evade treatment and put everyone’s health at risk.

Whilst antibiotics are crucial for the treatment of bacterial infections that cause pneumonia, meningitis, and sepsis, they are often prescribed to treat cold symptoms like mild coughs and sore throats.

In 2020, one in five people with an infection had an antibiotic-resistant one. If the bacteria causing their infection no longer responds to treatment with these common medicines, this could cause serious complications.

When bacteria become resistant, the original antibiotic is unable to kill them, meaning that these germs can spread throughout the body. They also have the potential to even spread resistance to other bacteria.

 The total number of bloodstream infections fell in 2020 for the first time in 2016, according to data from the English surveillance programme for antimicrobial utilisation and resistance (ESPAUR) for 2020-21, but this is likely to see a rise this winter, as social mixing returns.

Dr Susan Hopkins, chief medical advisor at the UKHSA, said: “Antimicrobial resistance has been described as a hidden pandemic and it’s important that we do not come out of COVID-19 and enter into another crisis.”

Lina Adams

Related Content

No items found

Latest content