Antibiotic resistance and the super bug crisis

Prof Deborah Williamson features on ABC’s Invisible Wars.

The final episode of the three-part series, featured leading scientists from around the globe and focused on super bugs - the microbial threat to humans.

Scientists are warning of a new kind of pandemic: antibiotic resistance, with many believing we are reaching the end of the antibiotic era.

“Antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest man made threats of the modern age,” says Prof Deb Williamson, leading Clinical and Public Health Microbiologist in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, “It threatens a large number of the advances for humankind over the past 50 years.”

While antibiotics are considered a miracle of modern medicine and have saved countless lives, irresponsible use has led to bacteria becoming resistant to antibiotics, reproducing and mutating into superbugs. By 2050 t is estimated that 10 million per year will die from superbug infection.

“Bacteria can adapt their genetic code to survive wherever they are…bacteria can evolve and develop resistance to antibiotics in the evolutionary blink of an eye,” says Prof Williamson.

Scientists are now working to find new drugs to tackle disease in the future with some bacteria now resistant to every antibiotic that has ever been made.

Invisible Wars: Episode 3 The Superbug Era aired on the ABC in April.

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