Scientists have found antibiotic-resistance genes (ARGs) in China's smog that further fuel fears that such situations could be fatal for humans and animals. Experts say that if the bacteria causes a disease and the bacteria carries ARGs, it would be harder to cure the disease.
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"Without urgent action, we are heading for a post-antibiotic era, in which common infections and minor injuries can once again kill," World Health Organisation (WHO) said on its website about increase in antibiotic resistant bacteria.
The scientists said that aerial spread of such genes should be studied further. What is alarming is that the genes were resistant to "last resort" antibiotics called carbapenems.
"We think this is really under-investigated and not taken seriously," says study author Joakim Larsson, director of the Centre for Antibiotic Resistance Research at the University of Gothenburg.
The antibiotic resistant bacteria can lead to deaths of 10 million people by 2050. "Antibiotic resistance is rising to dangerously high levels in all parts of the world. New resistance mechanisms are emerging and spreading globally, threatening our ability to treat common infectious diseases," the WHO said.
Larsson and his colleagues also found that the genes were found in high amount in areas with pollution from antibiotic manufacturing as waste from those units can end up in water sources.
Larsson urged for regulation on discharge limits on manufacturing units.
Antibiotic resistance is also more in countries where antibiotics can be bought for human or animal use without a prescription. "Similarly, in countries without standard treatment guidelines, antibiotics are often over-prescribed by health workers and veterinarians and over-used by the public," WHO said.
Due to antibiotic resistance, infections such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, and gonorrhoea are becoming harder to treat as the antibiotics used to treat them become less effective. It also leads to increased hospital stay and higher medical costs as well as increase in mortality rate.
It is possible to curb resistance to antibiotics with basic habits like vaccination, hand washing, practising safer sex, and good food hygiene.
As an individual, we can also make sure antibiotics are used when prescribed by a certified health professional.
Never demand antibiotics if your health worker says you don't need them.
Always follow your health worker's advice when using antibiotics.
Never share or use leftover antibiotics.
Prevent infections by regularly by washing hands, preparing food hygienically, avoiding close contact with sick people, practising safer sex, and keeping vaccinations up to date.