More dangerous than viruses: Researchers consider one thing to be the “greatest threat without exception”

Deepak Gupta
Deepak Gupta January 25, 2022
Updated 2022/01/25 at 6:51 AM

At so-called multi-resistant germs more people die now than from AIDS or malaria. In 2019 alone, 1.2 million deaths were counted from corresponding inflammations. Antimicrobial resistance has long been one of the greatest threats to human health for scientists.

Multi-resistant germs: That’s why they’re so dangerous

According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), there are around 400,000 to 600,000 cases of infection in hospitals in Germany alone every year, of which around 10,000 to 20,000 are fatal. It is not viruses that are most frequently involved, but the following pathogens, which belong to the multi-resistant germs:

  • Escherichia coli
  • Enterococcus faecalis
  • Enterococcus faecium
  • Clostridioides difficile
  • Staphylococcus aureus

These have the Ability to protect against antibiotics that other organisms produce. While such resistances develop naturally through mutations and the uptake of corresponding genes from the bacteria’s environment, the use of antibiotics by humans can pose a problem.

Too long or incorrect use favors the emergence and further spread of MRSA germs. The more a pathogen is exposed to a specific treatment, the more likely it is that resistance will develop.

The contamination of water bodies with antibiotics can also ensure this, as the World Economic Forum reports. According to analyses, 65 percent of the rivers examined exceeded the safety level.

Known symptoms of infection by multi-resistant germs

Various symptoms indicate whether someone has come into contact with MRSA germs. Some of these can be very serious and especially dangerous for older people. If it is only a superficial infestation, the germs are often harmless to healthy people. The symptoms themselves vary depending on where on the body the infection occurs.

  • General signs: fever, cough, headache and body aches
  • Pain and pus formation in surgical wounds
  • Local skin infections
  • Inflammation of the middle ear, paranasal sinuses, meninges or mammary glands
  • Pneumonia caused by MRSA germs
  • Rarely: circulatory or kidney failure with high fever

MRSA germs more deadly than viruses: That’s what research says

Researchers have been warning of MRSA germs for some time. They are said to pose a significantly higher risk to human health than the current outbreaks of viral infections: “If you think Covid 19 is bad, you don’t want anything to do with antimicrobial resistance (AMR),” explained Dr. Paul De Barro, head of biosecurity research at Australia’s national research organization CSIRO, told The Guardian in 2020.

The illness caused by the viruses does not even come close to the potential effects of AMR, said de Barro. “We would be thrown back into the Middle Ages of medicine.” Even if AMR already poses a threat worldwide, the fragile health systems in the Pacific region, where the problem is acute, could be burdened by multi-resistant germs beyond their pain threshold.

Global consequences of multi-resistant germs

The global public health consequences of multi-resistant germs are immense if you look at the role antibiotics play today. Without their effect, even a simple scratch or the birth of a child could lead to death. The result, according to de Barro: massive pressure on the healthcare system.

The problem is that antiviral measures such as social distancing cannot help against AMR because bacteria exist in food, water, the air and on every surface that plays a role in everyday life. Low estimates already assume that at least 700,000 people worldwide die every year from multi-resistant germs. Without effective antibiotics, that number could go up ten million deaths a year rise.

Rising death toll from more antibiotics?

As the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned, the increased use of antibiotics in the fight against viruses can increase bacterial resistance to them and lead to more deaths. Up to 250 million deaths by 2050 were predicted by AMR.

A researcher recently discovered that a 1,000-year-old recipe could possibly help against antibiotic resistance. It remains to be seen whether this really makes sense in the end, to mitigate the estimated developments in the coming years.

Sources: Robert Koch Institute (RKI), The Guardian, The Lancet, World Economic Forum, Helios,

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