Resistant superbugs more dangerous than war

Crisis: Antibiotics are also fed to farm animals to stop them getting ill.

Should we be worried about antibiotic resistance? Bacteria that can stop antibiotics working was found in one of the most remote places on Earth. Some say superbugs could kill millions.

What’s happening

Scientists have discovered “superbug” bacteria in one of the most remote areas of the Arctic. The bacteria, found in the soil in Svalbard, carries a gene which causes even the strongest antibiotics to stop working. This shows that superbugs are spreading across the entire world very quickly.

Find out more

Antibiotics are a type of medication used to treat illnesses which are caused by bacterial infections. When we use antibiotics too much, bacteria can learn how to fight the drugs. They become “superbugs”, which are much harder to cure.

Common surgeries, or even a small cut, could become life-threatening if antibiotics stop working. The UK government wants to cut antibiotic use by 15% and encourage drug companies to research new antibiotics to fight superbugs.

Last week, the UK’s health secretary, Matt Hancock, warned that antibiotic resistance is a bigger threat to humanity than climate change or war. Without fast action around the world, superbugs could kill 10 million people a year by 2050.

Are we heading for an antibiotic apocalypse?

Some say…

This is a really serious threat to the whole world. Superbugs are quickly becoming resistant to every kind of antibiotic, even the ones used as a last resort. Before antibiotics, people could die from simple chest infections or small wounds. Real action is urgently needed to stop that happening again.

Others think…

There is still time. Now that we know how dangerous superbugs could be, we can make plans to solve the problem. In fact, one expert, Lord Jim O’Neill, has suggested awarding $1 billion (£760 million) to the drug company that discovers a new antibiotic. Besides, around the world, medicine and human health are constantly improving. We’re up to the task.

You Decide

  1. What makes you feel better when you are sick?

Activities

  1. Draw your own storyboard in the style of a superhero comic. The bad guy is a superbug, and the hero is an antibiotic. Try to think of exciting names and costumes.

Some People Say...

“Always laugh when you can. It is cheap medicine.”

Lord Byron

What do you think?

Word Watch

Superbug
A type of bacteria that has changed to stop antibiotics working on it.
Remote
Far away from anything else.
Gene
A piece of DNA that controls the characteristics of a living thing.
Infections
A disease in your body that is caused by bacteria or a virus.
Surgeries
A medical operation.
Apocalypse
The end of the world.

Subjects

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