Antibiotic resistance, which can turn common ailments into killers, has reached dangerous levels globally, the World Health Organization warned Monday, saying widespread misunderstandings about the problem was fuelling the risk.

Antibiotic resistance happens when bugs become immune to existing drugs, allowing minor injuries and common infections to become deadly.

This happens naturally, but overuse and misuse of the drugs dramatically speeds up resistance, WHO said, voicing alarm at the results of a worldwide study showing that misconceptions about the threat are widespread, prompting dangerous behaviours.

“The rise of antibiotic resistance is a global health crisis. More and more governments recognise (it is) one of the greatest threats to health today,” WHO chief Margaret Chan told reporters, stressing that worldwide, resistance was “reaching dangerously high levels.”

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