If the Czech Republic had a collective immune system, it might be a
country at risk.
According to the World Health Organization, the Czech Republic is a world
leader in a deadly trend of antimicrobial resistance that is leaving patients
helpless against powerful infectious diseases. In a WHO report titled
"Overcoming Microbial Resistance," released in June, the Czech
Republic was second only to South Korea in the percentage of Streptococcus
pneumoniae, or pneumococcus, infections in hospitals that are penicillin
That means common infectious illnesses, like pneumonia, tuberculosis,
bacterial influenza, meningitis, otitis media and many venereal diseases can
work up the same lethal power they possessed before the discovery of penicillin
in 1928. Frequently referred to as the "Super Bug" phenomenon,
antimocrobial resistance is a situation in which bacterial strains gain
resistance to antibiotics.
The Czech Republic's National Center for the Surveillance of Resistance to
Antibiotics, a division of the National Institute of Public Health set up to
monitor resistance claims the WHO report is flawed and cites a much more
moderate pace of resistance. Nonetheless, the figures remain alarming.
According to the report, pneumococcus bacterium, the leading cause of
pneumonia, is now mutating into strains that defy first-choice antibiotic
treatment in more than 50% of the cases, a staggering rate. In a 1997 WHO
report, the Czech Republic was singled out for its impressively low three
percent resistance rate.
"It is true that in the Czech Republic there has been an increase of
resistance to antimicrobial substances, but it is not such a dramatic change
that could lead the Czech Republic to second worse in the world," said
Health Ministry press spokesman Otakar Cerny.
The national surveillance center, which collects data from 39 laboratories in
the country, including 11 in Prague, stands by a pneumococcus resistance rate
near the 5 percent mark.
Regardless of exact rates, the Czech Republic stands near the front line of
the war against bugs, with neighbouring Hungary and Slovakia considered global
hot spots of rsistance, most notably to the insidious S. pneumoniae bacterium.
Source: The Prague Post online or http://www.praguepost.cz/news071900a.html