In the best Old West style, the World Health Organization (WHO) has put a price on the heads of twelve specific killer bacteria—the most lethal in the world. They are not sought after, as they are everywhere, and there is no way to kill them anymore: resistant to antibiotics, they are responsible for 700,000 deaths every year, a figure that could rise to 10 million by 2050.
More than 70 infectious disease specialists, microbiologists and public health and critical care medicine specialists from various countries were involved in the production of the 2017 report, which presents the degree of risk offered by each microorganism. The resistance that bacteria have created to the remedies available today is a predictable consequence of natural selection.
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Those born with mutations that make them more resistant to antibiotics survive longer and end up spreading an increasing number of offspring with the same advantageous genetic load — which makes fighting diseases almost impossible.
The list was commissioned by the member countries of the organization so that, from now on, they can prioritize efforts to research and develop treatments in species that present the greatest risk to the population, escaping the selection criteria of the pharmaceutical industry, which is not always works in the public interest.
See below for the complete list, with 12 hated ones to make Tarantino jealous.
It can cause opportunistic infections — when a bacterium takes advantage of the fragile immune system of someone who is already ill to cause even more problems (understand better at SUPER) — in the airways and urinary system. It is the biggest cause of hospital infections in the world.
It contaminates medical equipment, causes kidney and lung infections, and attacks patients already hospitalized for severe burns. Like the baumannii, it likes already debilitated organisms.
This is not the name of a specific species, but of a group that includes already famous animals such as Klebsiella pneumonia or Escherichia coli, which reproduces every 20 minutes. Several of them pose no risk to humans, but others are responsible for various types of food poisoning. A phenomenon you can understand in this SUPER story.
It can be harmless and inhabit our intestines, but it can also cause meningitis in newborns.
Another frequent visitor to our body, it can cause sinusitis, food poisoning and skin problems such as abscesses.
Stomach cancer, duodenal ulcers and chronic gastritis are among the problems already associated with the presence of Helicobacter in our digestive system. But it does nothing for more than 85% of the people it infects.
A group of bacteria responsible for food poisoning and typhoid fever, which killed 161,000 people in 2013.
The name gives the work: it is responsible for gonorrhea, a sexually transmitted disease so old that it is even described in the Old Testament of the Bible. Read more about her here at SUPER.
Causes miscarriages in cows and sheep. In humans, it causes opportunistic infections.
One of the biggest causes of pneumonia and bacterial meningitis in children and the elderly.
Despite its name, it has nothing to do with the virus responsible for the flu. Like most bacteria on the list, it is also responsible for opportunistic infections in people who are already debilitated.
Related to salmonella, it is one of the four bacteria that most cause diarrhea in children in Africa and Southeast Asia: it is responsible for between 80 and 165 million cases of the disease each year.
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