Forget climate change – the antibiotics crisis will kill us all first, says NHS chief.

Bugs that cannot be killed by antibiotics could wipe out humanity ‘before climate change does’, England’s chief medical officer warned yesterday.

Professor Dame Sally Davies said: ‘Antibiotics underpin modern medicine – you can’t have gut surgery, replacement hips, all sorts of surgery without risking infection. Some strains of bugs including tuberculosis, MRSA and Clostridium difficile no longer respond to antibiotics that used to be effective against them.

Dame Sally, who leaves her post next month after nine years, also warned against importing meat or fish from countries that ‘misuse’ antibiotics in farming after Brexit. 

Overusing the drugs – be it for medicine or agriculture – means illnesses can adapt so they stop responding to antibiotics made to cure them. This means a minor infection such as a skin wound can prove fatal. 

Animals in factory farms fight and suffer from cuts and abrasions from their cages, so all the animals are treated with antibiotics to minimise losses from infections and the spread of diseases. Also, daily doses of certain antibiotics cause weight gain. This means that the animals are over-medicated, which causes bacteria to become resistant to antibiotics. Both the antibiotics and the resistant bacteria reach the consumer in the meat.

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