A world without antibiotics could be a mere 10 years away as science and nature compete in a battle that may render some routine operations too risky to consider.
Just 65 years ago, David Livermore’s paternal grandmother died following an operation to remove her appendix. It didn’t go well but it was not the surgery that killed her. She succumbed to a series of infections that the pre-penicillin world had no drugs to treat. Welcome to the future.
The era of antibiotics is coming to a close. In just a couple of generations, what once appeared to be miracle medicines have been beaten into ineffectiveness by the bacteria they were designed to knock out. Once, scientists hailed the end of infectious diseases. Now, the post-antibiotic apocalypse is within sight.
Hyperbole? Unfortunately not. This month, the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases posed the question over a paper revealing the rapid spread of drug-resistant bacteria. “Is this the end of antibiotics?” it asked.