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World health threat from antibiotic resistant bacteria

Posting in Technology

England's chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies says stop taking so many antibiotics.

There's a new scourge right up there with global warming that is threatening the well-being of people across the planet: antibiotic resistant bacteria.

And like with global warming, we have ourselves to blame (okay, fire away below, those of you who do not think humans are heating up the helpless globe).

England's chief medical officer, Prof Dame Sally Davies, has warned that our overuse of antibiotics is spawning resistant strains of bacteria at a staggering rate, the BBC reports.

"Antibiotics are losing their effectiveness at a rate that is both alarming and irreversible - similar to global warming," Davies declares.

She and the country's Health Protection Agency have appealed to the public to stop taking antibiotics for mild infections. Adding urgency, they noted that there are very few new antibiotics in development

Some people believe a glass of whisky soothes a sore throat.

"I urge patients and prescribers to think about the drugs they are requesting and dispensing," Davies says. "Bacteria are adapting and finding ways to survive the effects of antibiotics, ultimately becoming resistant so they no longer work."

And if you are taking antibiotics, remember to finish the prescribed dose, because not doing so fosters resistance, she points out.

Feel a sore throat coming on? Try tea and honey. That's my advice, not hers. A Scottish friend of mine swears whisky does the trick.Do you have an antibiotic-free cure all? Tell us about it below.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor.

Photos: Dame Sally Davies from Wikimedia/Flickr. Whisky from Brits At Their Best.

— By on November 15, 2012, 7:16 PM PST

Mark Halper

Contributing Editor

Mark Halper has written for TIME, Fortune, Financial Times, the UK's Independent on Sunday, Forbes, New York Times, Wired, Variety and The Guardian. He is based in Bristol, U.K. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure