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Doctors Mull a 'World without Antibiotics'

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While analyzing supermarket chicken meat and Dutch hospital patients, scientists found a worrisome similarity between the two: they both tested positive for the disease-causing bacteria Escherichia coli -- and the organisms carried the same genes conferring drug resistance, suggesting a passage from one to the other.

This was only one of several disturbing topics infection control specialists tackled at the 3rd annual World Healthcare-Associated Infection Forum in Annecy, France last month, as they pondered what the organization dubbed, "a world without antibiotics."

It's not, of course, that the world's running out of the drugs, tens of thousands of tons of which are used in both humans and animals every year: it's that we're running out of ones effective against microorganisms fast-evolving immunity to even last-resort antibiotics.

And few new drugs are on the horizon. Currently, only 15 antibiotics are in development that have a new mechanism of action, only two of which could work against multi-drug resistant Gram-negative bacteria, such as nasty strains of E. coli. 
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