The MRSA superbug: the World Health Organisation has warned of the increased spread of hospital superbugs. Wikimedia Commons

Superbugs evolving faster than medicine, worried experts warn

The World Health Organisation says drug-resistant bugs are developing at a rate that science will struggle to keep up with.

ANTIBIOTIC-RESISTANT SUPERBUGS are now evolving and developing too quickly for modern medicine to keep up with, the World Health Organisation was warned.

Marking international World Health Day yesterday, the UN’s health watchdog called for a new global push to come up with new drugs, without which humans could face the “nightmare scenario” of a worldwide spread of untreatable infections.

Among the steps recommended by the WHO were a push to develop comprehensive and financially national programmes to combat the spread of the bugs, the increased ‘rational’ use of existing medicines, and the introduction of new anti-infection measures.

“The discovery and use of antimicrobial drugs to treat diseases such as leprosy, tuberculosis, gonorrhoea and syphilis changed the course of medical and human history,” the WHO’s statement said.

“Now, those discoveries and the generations of drugs that followed them are at risk, as high levels of drug resistance threaten their effectiveness.”

The WHO claimed that the spread of drug-resistant infections had been expedited by the misuse, overuse or underuse of existing medications.

Tacking such infections on a global scale can be difficult, however, with different examples of such ‘superbugs’ – like MRSA, which is currently prevalent in Western Europe – being less prevalent in different parts of the world.

The BBC adds that the global spread of such bugs has picked up pace, however, with researchers in Cardiff having ascertained that another drug-resistant bug recently found there had been brought from India and Pakistan.

That superbug, called ‘NDM-1′, has previously contaminated the water supply in Delhi – which means that millions of people in that crowded city could be carrying the infection.