Britain is facing a "massive" rise in antibiotic-resistant blood poisoning caused by the bacterium E.coli – bringing closer the spectre of diseases that are impossible to treat.
Experts say the growth of antibiotic resistance now poses as great a threat to global health as the emergence of new diseases such as Aids and pandemic flu.
Professor Peter Hawkey, a clinical microbiologist and chair of the Government's antibiotic-resistance working group, said that antibiotic resistance had become medicine's equivalent of climate change.
The "slow but insidious growth" of resistant organisms was threatening to turn common infections into untreatable diseases, he said. Already, an estimated 25,000 people die each year in the European Union from antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections.