Be Afraid

A World Without Antibiotics, NDM 1 Response

We’re officially terrified: Some medical experts are saying that antibiotics will be ineffective in as little as 10 years. “This is potentially the end,” says Dr. Tim Walsh, the scientist who discovered a gene called NDM 1 in bacteria that makes them resistant to even the most powerful antibiotics. Bacteria with NDM 1 are widespread in India and have made their way to Britain via medical tourism. "A lot of modern medicine would become impossible if we lost our ability to treat infections," says the head of antibiotic-resistance monitoring at Britain’s Health Protection Agency. Transplant surgery and abdominal surgery like appendix operations are among the surgeries that would become much more dangerous to perform; pneumonia, tuberculosis, and gonorrhea would all become hard to treat or incurable. Don’t expect the pharmaceutical companies to help us out, either: They generally have eschewed antibiotic research, since patients usually only take them for a short period of time and therefore there is not much profit to be made.