In 1665 Londoners were tormented by fears of the Great Plague, what's the biggest health threat to modern society? 

Today's guest blog is from Public Health England. 

Great Plague of London

Memoirs relating to the state of the Royal Navy of England for ten years determined December 1688 by Samuel Pepys
Samuel Pepys
 
Samuel Pepys witnessed Stuart London suffer the worst of the Great Plague in 1665. A time when the population of London had grown and the fact that a lot of that population lived in poverty, coupled with a hot summer, meant disease spread fast and efficiently, with catastrophic outcomes. 
 
Symptoms of the Great Plague included red blotches on the skin, some of which turned to puss-filled sacs under the armpits and in the groin. Victims began to feel tired, lethargic and felt a great deal of pain as well as developing a fever and eventually suffering affects to the brain and nerves. Those who lived long enough became delirious and unable to speak properly before they died. 
 
 
It almost seems unimaginable to us now that disease could break out in London to this extent and we wouldn’t have the means to treat it and save lives. The modern medicines we have today are remarkable and we have come a long way since the times of the Great Plague. However today we face a problem that’s quite the opposite of those people who lived in 1665. We have medicines and treatments and proper sanitation but we are under threat. 
 

Threats to modern society

Bacteria is fighting back against our antibiotics.
 
We face losing some of our most precious medicines due to antimicrobial resistance. This is the ability of microbes to grow in the presence of a chemical (drug) that would normally kill them or limit their growth. Antimicrobial resistance makes it harder to treat infections as existing drugs become less effective. 
 
We are at risk of being cast back into a time similar to when we didn’t have antibiotics. Routine community infections such as urinary tract and chest infections could become much harder to treat. Thousands of people are already dying every year due to resistance and we must do what we can now to stop this issue getting worse. It’s imperative to the future of our healthcare. 
 

Fight antimicrobial resistance

 
We all have a role in saving antibiotics, and it’s important that we engage with the issue now. One easy thing we can do is to stop asking for antibiotics for colds and flu. Even when you feel very unwell with flu-like symptoms, antibiotics can’t treat you. Taking them when we don’t need to means we damage the good bacteria in our bodies, which we need in order to stay healthy and have a strong immune system. 
 
You can also choose one simple pledge about the individual action you can take to help protect some of our most precious medicines. Find out more, become an Antibiotic Guardian and join the battle to tackle antimicrobial resistance. The more people that pledge, the more we can spread the word and get others to become aware of antibiotic resistance and the battle we are facing. 
 

What do you think's the biggest health threat facing modern society? Join the conversation using #PepysShow

For more information on Pepys and the Great Plague visit Samuel Pepys: Plague, Fire, Revolution

To become an Antibiotic Guardian sign up here