Dr Fidelma Fitzpatrick: Return to pre-antibiotic era will be a very bitter pill to swallow
It's every parent's worst nightmare. Mary was a happy, little girl, but now she's in hospital. Yesterday she suddenly got a high temperature, a rash and became very drowsy. Her worried mum brought her to the GP, who suspected meningitis, and she was rushed to hospital where she was given antibiotics. She's on the road to recovery now, but 70 years ago Mary would have died.
Although meningitis is still a very serious condition, 95pc of people who get it will survive, thanks to one of the greatest medical miracles of the last hundred years -- antibiotics.
Antibiotics were the major medical advance of the last century. They are crucial for treating infections and also play an important role in preventing infections, for example, following surgery. A recent review of the 1900-05 death records from Sir Patrick Dun's Hospital indicate that the majority of Irish people died of 'simple' infections such as skin, chest and throat infections that are now treatable with antibiotics.