Catastrophic Antibiotic Threat: 'Untreatable Infections' Coming, UK and US Doctors Warn

Health officials in the United Kingdom are warning of possible catastrophic consequences after the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

One of the reasons antibiotic resistance is on the increase is the fact that bacteria are adapting quicker than researchers can develop new drugs to fight them, according to England's chief medical officer.

The development of drug resistant bacteria means that otherwise routine procedures or infections could pose the risk of developing into something more severe. These new infections will not be able to be effectively treated with drugs that are currently available.

"Antimicrobial resistance poses a catastrophic threat. If we don't act now, any one of us could go into hospital in 20 years for minor surgery and die because of an ordinary infection that can't be treated by antibiotics," Sally Davies, the chief medical officer for England, told Reuters.

She added that there have only been a few drugs successfully developed and made available on the market in the past few decades which led to the current situation. It also means that procedures that were once thought to be routine may pose a serious health risk to patients.

"And routine operations like hip replacements or organ transplants could be deadly because of the risk of infection," she continued.

But the problem, unfortunately, is not isolated to the U.K., as doctors in the U.S. warn of similar consequences that could play out in the nation's hospitals.

Strains of highly resistant bacteria infected patients in 4 percent of U.S. hospitals in the first half of last year, and a whopping 18 percent in specialized hospitals, the Centers for Disease Control revealed last week.

"Our strongest antibiotics don't work and patients are left with potentially untreatable infections," Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a statement.

He stressed that doctors, hospitals and public health officials need to work closer together in order to be able to stop the super-bacteria from spreading.

The CDC cautioned that the rise of new strains of resistant bacteria is not a new phenomenon, and that over the past decade, there has been a dramatic increase of hospitalized patients who have been infected with the bacteria.