England's top health official said Monday that antibiotic resistance poses a "catastrophic threat" to public health.
Sally Davies, England's chief medical officer, warned in her first annual report that coordinated international action is required to combat and cure antimicrobial resistance, as infections grow into drug resistant "superbugs."
The problem is that basic medical operations may become increasingly dangerous if a person's ability to fight infection — with the help of antibiotics — is diminished. Seemingly ordinary surgeries like getting your tonsils out or having a hip replaced may become risky operations.
"Antimicrobial resistance is a ticking time-bomb not only for the UK but also for the world. We need to work with everyone to ensure the apocalyptic scenario of widespread antimicrobial resistance does not become a reality," Davies said.
Davies added that drug resistance should be listed in the National Risk Register, a list of risks to the homeland thata includes “catastrophic terrorist attacks," according to the Telegraph.
"There are an increasing number of infections for which there are virtually no therapeutic options, and we desperately need new discovery, research and development," Davies said.
The World Health Organization warned last year that gonorrhea superbugs were spreading.
If solutions to drug resistant superbugs, such as the discovery of new antibiotics, are not found or steps to curb antibiotic use not taken, "we will find ourselves in a health system not dissimilar to the early 19th century at some point," Davies cautioned.
More from GlobalPost: Incurable gonorrhea found in North America