Superbug Threat

Will antibiotics continue to work?


Public health experts warn of a growing menace: the spread of bacterial infections that antibiotics are powerless to cure. Such infections, caused by pathogens known as superbugs, kill an estimated 700,000 people per year around the world, 23,000 of them Americans. In the United States alone, fighting superbugs consumes up to $20 billion in health care costs annually, a recent study found. Because humans and livestock consume so many antibiotics — billions of doses a day — many bacteria are becoming resistant to the drugs. Some doctors prescribe antibiotics indiscriminately, and countries such as India allow over-the-counter sales of the drugs. Making matters worse, pharmaceutical companies are not producing enough new antibiotics to replace those that are no longer effective. Some experts hope heightened awareness ...

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