Monday, September 17, 2007

Conference on germ resistance to begin in Chicago

AFP: Thousands of physicians and scientists meet here Monday to tackle the growing resistance of germs to antibiotics and the effects of global warming on them, at the world's biggest conference on disease-causing microbes. For the first time at the annual event, "the keynote session is going to be on climate change and the impact on human disease," Jim Sliwa, spokesman for the American Society for Microbiology which is organizing the event, told AFP.

"We know that climate change is going to change the pattern of infectious diseases," he said. "There are so many variables that we don't know what's going to happen."

"As global average temperature increases, we know ... for example, the malaria line in mountainous regions will continue to rise. This is fairly certain because above a certain altitude mosquitoes can't live," he said. "We know also in the tropics influenza is year-round. There is no influenza season, so as the temperature rises the tropical areas expand and we'll get more year-round influenza."

Presentations at the conference, which is expected to bring together more than 12,000 physicians, researchers and other healthcare professionals from around the globe, will address the problem of drug-resistant microbes such as tuberculosis, which kills two million people each year.

Pharmaceutical labs will present research on growing challenges such as the resistance of certain staphylococcus bacteria, known as SARM, to antibiotics -- a source of many in-hospital infections, the association said. They will also discuss the risks of a possible epidemic of a form of bird flu that is dangerous to humans and that could be passed from person to person….

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