Doctors commonly treat bacterial infections with antibiotics. When one drug doesn’t work, they try another. These techniques are dangerous because the bacteria that can resist the antibiotic are more likely to survive it and pass on their resistance genes. Over time, the bacteria evolve, becoming more and more resistant to our drugs. As a result, some common infections can resist even our strongest antibiotics.
It’s a scary scenario, but it’s already beginning to take shape. Between 2000 and 2010, international sales of antibiotics for human use shot up 40%, the report found, with Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa making up three-quarters of that increase.
If our behavior doesn’t change, it could take humanity about a century back in time in terms of deaths from infections. “Antimicrobial resistance threatens many of the most important medical advances we have made,” the authors of the report write.