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Digital Subscriptions > Newsweek International > 23rd September 2016 > SYRIAN SUPERBUGS


Bashar al-Assad’s war in Syria could produce something far more deadly than ISIS: the end of antibiotics
THE RESISTANCE: Mohammed Abu Ara is among a growing number of Syrians for whom almost all antibiotics do not work.

MOHAMMED ABU ARA is the face of a grave new threat, but propped up on his bed in an airy segregated hospital ward in Jordan, there’s not a hint of menace about him. With his left arm cut off above the elbow and one of his legs encased in a metal splint, he looks like thousands of others whose lives have been shredded by the violence of the Syrian civil war.

Yet for many regional health analysts, Abu Ara and several others at the Doctors Without Borders Special Hospital for Reconstructive Surgery in Amman are part of a terrifying new trend: the growing number of Syrians who are immune to almost all antibiotics. The only way to treat them is to amputate their affected limbs and inject them with last-resort drugs. For those suffering from less peripheral wounds, the prognosis is even grimmer. “If the infection is in the chest or brain, he will die,” says Rashid Fakhri, surgical coordinator for the organization, known internationally as Médecins sans frontières (MSF), in Amman. “You can’t amputate there.”

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