Superbugs are killing 33,000 in Europe, TRIPLE the quantity ten years in the past

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Superbugs are killing around 33,000 people a year in Europe, according to health experts. 

An analysis found deaths from antibiotic-resistant infections have tripled over the past decade – from 11,000 in 2007. 

Experts have now warned the burden of superbugs on the health of the population are similar to that of HIV, flu and tuberculosis combined.

The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), which conducted the study, branded the findings ‘worrying’.

The body, based in Sweden, spoke of its concerns over the rise in cases of bugs resistant to the most powerful, last-resort antibiotics – called carbapenems.

‘This … is worrying because these antibiotics are the last treatment options available,’ the ECDC said in a statement. 

‘When these are no longer effective, it is extremely difficult or, in many cases, impossible to treat infections.’

MPs warned last month superbugs will kill more people than cancer and diabetes combined by 2050, unless something is done to tackle antibiotic resistance.  

Experts say the death toll could reach ten million a year globally within the next 30 years.

Specialists estimate around 70 per cent of bacteria that can cause infection are already resistant to at least one antibiotic that is commonly used to treat them.

This has made the evolution superbugs one of the biggest threats facing medicine today.

The study, published in the Lancet Infectious Diseases journal, focused on five types of infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the European Union and in the European Economic Area (EU/EEA).

It found around 75 per cent of superbugs are contracted in hospitals and health clinics – known as healthcare-associated infections. 

The researchers also looked at the differences between European countries, with Italy and France having the highest death toll.

The UK came fifth in the ranking, with an estimated 2,170 deaths in the year 2015, and 53,000 cases. Infection rates were lower in northern European countries.   

The findings also showed that superbug infections accounts for the loss of 900,000 years of full health. 

This is 170 years per 100,000 people, in comparison to the figure of 183 per 100,000 for the three major infectious diseases, HIV, flu and tuberculosis.

The study, led by Dr Alessandro Cassini, indicated the deadliest superbug, carbapenem-resistant K pneumoniae, had the biggest increase – increasing by nearly seven-fold since 2007.

‘Strategies to prevent and control antibiotic-resistant bacteria require coordination at EU/EEA and global level,’ the researchers said. 

They added that due to variations in the numbers of cases and the types of antibiotic-resistant bacteria causing infection in different countries, prevention and control measures need to be tailored to national situations.

The UK Government is aiming to half the number of unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions by 2020.

Already, 700,000 people die yearly due to drug-resistant infections including tuberculosis (TB), HIV and malaria across the world, and 

The World Health Organization (WHO) has previously warned if nothing is done the world is heading for a ‘post-antibiotic’ era.

In addition to existing drugs becoming less effective, there has only been two new antibiotics developed in the last 30 years.

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