World Health Organization: Antibiotic Overuse May Cause Minor Infections to Become Deadly

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The World Health Organization's top executive warns that the overuse of antibiotics means that a scraped knee could become deadly. According to Dr. Margaret Chan, WHO's director-general, antibiotics simply aren't as effective as they used to be and, as a result, they're used excessively.

"Things as common as strep throat or a child's scratched knee could once again kill," said Chan.

Science Daily reported that a 2007 study found that doctors were prescribing antibiotics to patients for as much as 80 percent of cases of sore throat and other sicknesses. Another major contributor to drug-resistance is the meat industry. National Public Radio reported on a study that found excessive use of antibiotics in animal feed caused some farmers to develop drug-resistant skin infections.

Additionally, a new report from the Centers for Disease Control shows that death rates from drug-resistant stomach infections have doubled in the past decade. The CDC's report found that between 1999 and 2007 gastroenteritis-related deaths increased from nearly 7,000 Americans annually to more than 17,000 people per year. Adults 65 and older accounted for 83 percent of the deaths.

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