HOUSTON, Texas – When the editors of Time chose the Ebola Fighters as their collective Person of the Year, it served as a reminder of the delicate balance between life and death, and how something that can only be seen through a microscope can tip that balance to kill thousands of people in a matter of days.
Now, a study out of Great Britain says superbugs could kill 10 million people on earth every year by 2050, that’s 35 years from now.
That’s more than deaths by traffic accidents, cancer, and a host of diseases like diabetes and cholera combined.
Charles Ericsson, MD / UTHealth Medical School“These so-called superbugs are usually not any different from other bugs, except they’re becoming resistant to antibiotics, so they’re difficult to treat,” said Dr. Charles Ericsson of the UTHealth Medical School.
The “Review on Antimicrobial Resistance” singled out one strand of E. coli as an example of a bug that has become resistant to its last-resort antibiotic.
The report said the populations of Asia and Africa will get hit the hardest by these superbugs, predicting 4.7 million deaths a year in Asia and 4.1 million deaths in Africa.
North America could see 317,000 deaths.
The overuse of antibiotics through prescriptions by doctors and by livestock producers are seen as contributing to the continued growth in superbugs.
Another? Natural evolution. Bacteria growing and mutating to stay alive.
But Ericsson says humans can fight back by simply washing our hands.
“By and large, these bugs are transferred from patient to patient via our hands. Just wash your hands. Practice good hand hygiene.”
In other words, do what your mama told you, for your health, and for others.