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Report: Antibiotics are losing effectiveness worldwide

A post-antibiotic era in which common infections and minor injuries once again lead to death is a real possibility this century, the World Health Organization said in the first global survey of resistance to antimicrobial drugs.

"Very high rates of resistance" to treatments have been observed in all regions, in bacteria that cause common infections such as those related to wounds, pneumonia, and urinary-tract and bloodstream conditions, the Geneva-based agency said in a report yesterday. WHO also saw significant gaps in disease surveillance and lack of coordination of data sharing.

Resistance to antibiotics is particularly acute with tuberculosis, affecting about 630,000 people globally, and drug effectiveness is declining among patients with malaria, HIV and influenza, WHO said. Ten countries have reported that gonorrhea is untreatable by any antibiotic.

"The report shows that resistance is a global trend; this is not a phenomenon occurring in just poor countries or developing countries," Keiji Fukuda, WHO assistant director-general for health security, said. "We are taking this situation extremely seriously." -- Bloomberg News