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Plague of 'vampire horseflies' prompts warning of 'killer' infections

Liverpool Echo logo Liverpool Echo 12/07/2018 Jonathan Humphries

A plague of 'vampire horseflies' has prompted warnings that the UK faces an outbreak of antibiotic resistant infections.

Antibiotic Research UK (ANTRUK) has warned that bites could result in the possibility of infections which might not be treatable with our existing antibiotics.

The charity says hot weather has seen populations of horseflies reach Mediterranean levels.

Professor Colin Garner, chief executive of ANTRUK, said: "Here is a prime example of why we need to develop new medications fast to keep up with our changing climate and unexpected situations such as a horsefly bite epidemic.

a close up of a bird © Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited

"We have been warning for some time that our antibiotics are so ineffective that we could reach the situation where people will once again die from an infected scratch or bite.

"That tragic moment may just have come. I personally got bitten recently by a horsefly and it is very painful. I am self-medicating with creams and an oral antihistamine tablet to ensure the bite site does not become infected."

Horseflies are coming - this is what you should do if you get bitten

NHS experts say the majority of small but nonetheless painful insect bites and stings can be treated at home with over-the-counter medication/

But itchy horsefly bites take longer to heal and can become infected, especially if scratched.

The effects of an infected horsefly bite can include:

• A raised and nasty rash

• Dizziness

• Shortage of breath

• Weak and swollen limbs

Treatments include antihistamine and steroid creams and in serious cases, broad-spectrum antibiotics.

© Provided by Credits: Handout

Handout

But the charity says with bacteria in our bodies becoming more resistant to antibiotics, doctors have been left scrabbling around to find the right treatment to fight infections

Prof. Garner said: "It is entirely possible in 2018 that you can die of an insect bite, not just in some hot foreign clime, but here in Britain.

"We have not invested in the kinds of antibiotics we need to keep up with devious and ever-changing bacterial infections. Now we are in real danger that we could return to a pre-antibiotic past, where dirty wounds, bites and conditions like TB and Typhoid might kill."

ANTRUK has called for the Government, drugs companies, research charities and the public to work together to avoid antibiotic resistance.

The NHS advise that you see your GP immediately if an insect bite results in symptoms of an infection such as pus, increased pain, redness and swelling.

ANTRUK offer research grants to those seeking alternatives to our current antibiotics through its Small Research Grant Scheme ( https://www.antibioticresearch.org.uk/antruk-launches-small-research-grants-scheme/ ).

It also supports people and their families coping with the often heart-breaking effects of superbugs such as MRSA.

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