Europe is facing an increasing threat from superbugs, which are becoming resistant to last-resort powerful antibiotics referred to as carbapenems, said the disease-monitoring agency in the European Union on Friday.
This is the latest in a number of warnings related to antibiotic resistance from authorities in healthcare across the globe who fear that in the near future simple types of infections might not respond any longer to medical treatment.
Misuse as well as overuse of antibiotics had driven the rise in infections that are drug-resistance and medical experts are alarmed in particular about bacteria that are unable to be killed with the carbapenems, which is the most powerful type of antibiotic drug.
The proportions of resistant infections to carbapenems is increasing especially over the past four years, particularly in the region of southern Europe and nearly every European country has reported cases, said the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control.
The cases that are most severe involved infections in the bloodstream, but the superbugs that are drug resistant can also cause more serious problems in the urinary and respiratory tracts.
The ECDC showed data that indicated the proportion of Klebsiella pneumonia, a cause of sickness in patients at hospitals, that were carbapenems resistant was 5% as of 2012 in five European countries – Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Slovakia and Romania.
Back in 2009, only Cyprus and Greece were above that mark of 5%.
The ECDC also said another concern is the emergence of the Acinetobacter bacteria, which is carbapenem-resistant and now represents over 25% of the infections in eight of the 18 countries that reported data.
The director of the ECDC warned that the carbapenems were the last line of defense for antibiotics and the situation was becoming worrisome.
Since 2009, it is more common in hospitals to face treating patients with infections that are resistant to carbapenems, often meaning old and toxic medications need to be used.
In addition, there is a need for antibiotics to be used more prudently including more awareness amongst the public that they do not kill viruses. Of recent, pharmaceutical companies are shying away from researching of these antibiotics, are finding problems with leads for antimicrobial drugs, and have turned to drugs that are more profitable.