June 17, 2024
More deaths, fewer joint replacements, huge costs: The superbug crisis is already here, report warns
The single greatest driving force of resistance is the overuse and misuse of antibiotics, Conly said.
The single greatest driving force of resistance is the overuse and misuse of antibiotics, Conly said.

Hundreds of thousands of lives lost from infections that have been treatable for the last century. Fewer organ transplants and joint replacements because they’re just too risky to perform. Stigma against “carriers” or “the infected.” A shrinking economy.

A new report is raising the stark possibility of Canada returning to an almost pre-antibiotic era — the prospect of a future where antibiotics against common infections no longer work.

“There have been few health crises on this scale in Canadian history,” warns the Council of Canadian Academies expert panel report, When Antibiotics Fail.

While it’s not quite the apocalyptic world others have warned of, if the overuse of antibiotics isn’t slowed, if the number of effective drugs continues to run out, “Canada will be greatly changed within a few decades,” the report warns.

Already, 26 per cent of bacterial infections in Canada are resistant to the first-line drugs generally used to treat them, according to the panel’s estimates.

In 2018, there were 250,000 resistant bacterial infections in Canada, and more than 5,400 directly related deaths, only slightly fewer deaths than from Alzheimer’s disease.

If the resistance rate hits 40 per cent by 2050 — a scenario the panel deems “highly plausible” — 13,700 people would die each year from resistant bacterial infections.

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