Spotlight on health crisis

17:00, Aug 14 2014
Dr Heather Hendrickson
SPEAKING OUT: Microbiologist Dr Heather Hendrickson from Massey University discussed antibiotic resistance on the radio.

A Massey University lecturer is helping people understand the danger of antibiotic resistance.

Molecular biosciences lecturer Dr Heather Hendrickson talked about her research into antibiotic resistance on a Radio New Zealand ‘Naked Scientists' special.

Hendrickson is a regular commentator on the issue of antibiotic resistance and phage therapy, which involves the use of viruses to infect and destroy harmful bacteria.

She discussed both on the show, which will also be featured on BBC Radio 5 Live and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

A World Health Organisation report released in April warned resistance to antibiotics is rising around the world.

"This serious threat is no longer a prediction for the future, it is happening right now in every region of the world and has the potential to affect anyone, of any age, in any country," it says.

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"Antibiotic resistance - when bacteria change so antibiotics no longer work in people who need them to treat infections - is now a major threat to public health."

Hendrickson has analysed this report and posted an explanation on her blog This Microbial Life about how New Zealand is directly affected.

Hendrickson has studied bacterial evolution for 15 years and hopes her research will contribute to finding ways to protect the wider public from this health crisis.

"The issue of antibiotic resistance is one that looms large in our future as the effectiveness of this common medicine weakens and potentially becomes obsolete, leaving our immune systems to singularly fight bacteria and infection," she says.

"We are looking at a post-antibiotic era where infections that arise from simple injuries could be resistant to our antibiotics and therefore life-threatening to any one of us."

Visit thismicrobiallife.word press.com.

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