Antibiotic overuse dangerous

2011-11-17 22:34

Copenhagen/Stockholm - Raising awareness about the risks of overuse of antibiotics is needed to combat antibiotic resistance in Europe, health agencies said on Thursday.

In recent years, the threat posed by infections that have become resistant to antibiotics has become more apparent, ranging from antibiotic-resistant bloodstream infections like methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) to multidrug-resistant tuberculosis.

Another problem is lack of data. Each year, only about a third of the estimated 81 000 cases of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis were likely reported in the 53 European countries, according to the Copenhagen-based European office of the World Health Organisation.

A sizeable portion of patients with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis do not receive treatment with more effective drugs, the UN health agency added. It estimated that treatment costs would triple to $1.7bn in 2015.

According to the WHO, the two most common antibiotic-resistant bloodstream infections caused 8 215 deaths in 31 European countries in 2007.

These bloodstream infections also caused over 370 000 extra days in hospital, costing €62m. The WHO said it planned to assist 21 European countries improve collecting and reporting of data as part of measures to mitigate and combat antibiotic resistance.

The statistics were issued on the eve of European Antibiotic Awareness Day (November 18). "The need for concerted action to curb growing resistance to antibiotics is now critical," said Marc Sprenger, head of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

The Stockholm-based ECDC said antibiotic resistance is driven by "misuse of antibiotics in animals and humans" but there were also cases of inappropriate use of drugs in hospitals.

Other agencies involved in the issue were the European Commission, the European Medicines Agency and the European Food Safety Authority.

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