Antimicrobial Resistance and a Post Antibiotic Era

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is when microorganisms, such as bacteria, adapt to live with the drugs that we use to control them. This is a growing problem, due to the widespread use of antibiotics.

The consequences of AMR can be dramatic. Procedures such as organ transplant and chemotherapy would be at considerable risk without effective antibiotics being available.

There are already calls to prepare for a ‘post antibiotic era’, in which we are forced to manage infection without our most effective weapon.

I studied Microbiology at the University of Leeds, and have continued to have an active interest in this field working in Biobanking & Human transplants. In 2014 I went to a lecture hosted by Professor Richard James, through The Royal Society of Biology at Nottingham University.

In 2007 Professor James was accused of being a “sensationalist and scaremonger” by the UK Department of Health’s Chief Nursing Officer, after he said the problem of antibiotic resistance affected thousands of hospital patients – and would get much worse if something wasn’t done. During the lecture Professor James stated that he felt vindicated, when in 2013 England’s Chief Medical Officer stated that “the rise in antibiotic resistance is comparable to the threat of global warming”.

In a post antibiotic era, we may be forced to return to a world where infection is managed by isolating affected individuals, rather than being able to treat the infection directly. So I also welcome the challenge to correctly manage the use of antibiotics. And to ensure the post antibiotic era is future which never comes into being.

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