EAST Lancashire doctors are NOT guilty of over-prescribing antibiotics, says top hospital microbiologist, Stephen Dealler.

His statement came as the Government was today warned that over-prescription had led to major bug resistance to drugs and posed a threat to public health in future.

A parliamentary report says resistance to antibiotics by new strains of "super-bugs" could undo the 20th-century miracle of taming killer diseases like TB and meningitis.

But Dr Dealler says this is not the case in East Lancashire where hundreds of pathology tests are carried out at his labs at Burnley Health Trust.

"Resistance is not a problem for people in this area where we have found very little evidence of resistance and very little evidence of any increase in resistance."

The consultant added: "I think the GPs in this area are being very good and responsible.

"But I would not say this is the case in the South of the country where there is clear evidence that over-prescribing has led to resistance."

Dr Dealler said the situation was worse on the continent, particularly France, where antibiotics were freely available.

The over-the-counter sale of drugs in many European countries was causing real problems, he said.

In Spain, half of pneumonia bacteria was resistant to normal treatment, he added.

Dr Dealler, best known as an expert on mad cow disease and its CJD human form spoke as a House of Lords committee report was delivered to the Government.

It came as doctors at the Public Health Laboratory Service reported they had found a super bug which was "resistant to just about everything".

The committee findings are highly critical of doctors, hospitals and vets and states: "There is a dire prospect of returning to the pre-antibiotic era"

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