Letter: Need for worldwide health care

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Sir: The emergence of resistant bacteria has not been the only hazard resulting from the indiscriminate use of antibiotics (report, 20 May). It has also contributed to a steady increase in all kinds of virus diseases, many of them life-threatening.

Human bodies play host to - are symbiotic with - a wide variety of normally occurring bacteria which in their turn share their micro-environment in our tissues with smaller organisms, namely viruses. Thus there is in the healthy individual an equilibrium between these assorted bugs in, for example, the human respiratory tract.

When antibiotics are given, especially "wide spectrum antibiotics", many bacteria are killed off leaving the viruses - which are not affected - to proliferate unchecked. Anti-viral agents are few and tend to be very toxic.


London NW3