- COPENHAGEN (AFP-Reuters) - Experts from 35 countries meet in Denmark this
week to discuss one of the greatest threats to human and animal health,
the growing resistance of disease-carrying bacteria to antibiotics.
- Some 300 government delegates, researchers,
doctors, vets and representatives of pharmaceutical companies will gather
Wednesday and Thursday at Lyngby, north of Copenhagen.
- It is the first international conference
on a problem of increasing concern, particularly as the hardened germs
are spreading rapidly from country to country.
- The meeting on "The Microbial Threat"
planned since last year by medical chiefs from the European Union is expected
to announce measures to counter the problem, which results in patients
taking longer to get well, at greater expense, or failing to recover at
- The blame is pinned fairly and squarely
on the overuse of antibiotics to fight disease.
- Dr. Vibeke Rosdahl of the Danish state
serological institute said an investigation covering 19,000 patients in
19 European countries showed that in certain hospitals 50 percent of bacteria
- This compared with one percent in hospitals
in the Nordic states of Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden.
- "There is a clear link between the
use of antibiotics in hospitals and the emergence of resistant bacteria,"
Rosdahl said. "In many countries inside and outside Europe, the consumption
of antibiotics is three times that in Scandinavia."
- In some hospitals the figure is ten times
more, Rosdahl said, adding: "It is this overconsumption which threatens
the health of patients in the world."
- Professor Fernando Baquero of the Center
of Microbiology in Madrid, one of the main speakers at the upcoming conference,
also rang the alarm bells recently.
- "The present development in antibiotics
resistant bacteria may return us to stage one, before the invention of
antibiotics," he warned. "The reason is that it may take up to
ten years to find new effective antibiotics and another ten years to test
the new medicine.
- "In the meantime, the scale of resistance
will develop so extensively that it will be a threat to world health."
- Some European countries have a daily
consumption of more than one ton of antibiotics for human and animal treatment,
- The most recent figures for some of the
most important antibiotics used to combat staphylococcal infections indicate
that the development of resistance is a real threat.
- In 20 surveyed centers around the world,
only the four Nordic countries had multiresistance below two percent, while
in Australia, Britain, France, Germany, Colorado (USA) Lithuania and New
Zealand it was between five and 20 percent.
- In Belgium, California, Kuwait, South
Africa and Spain bacteria resistance levels were at between 20 and 40 percent,
while in Greece, Malaysia, New Jersey and Poland they were above 40 percent.
- In Scandinavia, the authorities are trying
to insulate their countries against multiresistance, isolating on arrival
in hospital all patients and hospital staff who have been hospitalized
or worked outside Scandinavia, Rosdahl said.
- A patient will only be treated like others
once it has been confirmed that he or she does not carry multiresistant
bacteria from abroad. So far this policy has prevented the spread of multiresistance
and larger epidemics.
- Bacteria are not restricted by frontiers,
brought across by sick people or medical workers, or in food products.
The use of certain antibiotics to promote the growth of farm animals is
also a growing danger, as resistant bacteria can be passed on in the food