World Health Day brings attention to superbugs becoming resistant to drugs

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World Health Day brings attention to superbugs becoming resistant to drugs

What’s turning old pathogens into new superbugs? We are. Bacteria and viruses develop resistance over time but scientists say we are speeding up the process through overuse and misuse of medicines.

For example, by taking antibiotics to treat viruses like colds and flu. Also in agriculture, by giving antibiotics to healthy animals for growth promotion. They’ve warned that if nothing is done to check this, these superbugs could one day kill more people than cancer.

For World Health Day, CGTN’s Liling Tan looks at five superbugs gaining an edge over modern medicine.

Superbugs are known pathogens that have found a way to fight the drugs long used to treat them. They’re like the super villains of modern medicine. And when they win, we all lose.

Take gonorrhea. Yes, it’s a rather frightful looking bacteria. And it’s also very clever.

The World Health Organization says every time a new class of antibiotics is used to treat it, it evolves to resist them.

It’s been reported in more than 50 countries,

And last week, a British man made news headlines after he picked up a particularly nasty strain from Southeast Asia, with high-level antibiotics resistance. British press are calling it “Super Gonorrhea.”

Then there’s the flu.  This year’s flu season in the United States was particularly widespread and lethal, and with warnings of a potential “killer flu” outbreak in the UK and Australia, this bug cannot be underestimated.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains that because influenza viruses are constantly mutating, they can become resistant spontaneously, such as was the case with Tamiflu.

And the WHO. says because of this rate of mutation, the flu has the potential to cause serious pandemics, affecting millions of people.

Got the chills? Convulsions? fever? headache? Muscle pain? Nausea? A very upset stomach? Have you been around these guys (mosquito) lately? Malaria, maybe?

Multi-drug resistant Malaria have been known for years in Southeast Asia’s Greater Mekong Subregion, with one known strain resistant to almost all available antimalarial drugs.

There are also concerns they may spread to other parts of the subregion, while strains elsewhere in the world could develop their own antimalarial resistance.

If untreated, Malaria can kill.

Huge strides have been made to address HIV/Aids. But drug resistance is starting to threaten progress.

The U.S. Department of Health says variations of drug-resistant HIV can develop in a patient under treatment, and then spread from person to person.

And the use of important antiretroviral treatment is also expected to increase resistance to it.

Tuberculosis is among the top 10 causes of death globally, killing more people than HIV/Aids. And drug resistant TB is making things worse.

The WHO estimated that in 2016, some 600,000 people fell prey to drug-resistant TB, with about half of the cases in China, India and Russia.

Drug-resistant TB killed 240,000 people that year.

Reported in more than 120 countries, the WHO says inappropriate and incorrect use of treatment is a main cause of drug resistance, helping to turn what was known in the 1800s as “consumption” into the airborne superbug of this 21st century.