Abx Resistance Still a 'Significant Enemy' in U.S — CDC

Carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter

An illustration of carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae. Dan Higgins James Archer CDC

Researchers at the University of Melbourne discovered three variants of the multidrug-resistant bug in samples from 10 countries, including strains in Europe that can not be tamed by any drug now on the market.

The bacterium Acinetobacter, also new to the "urgent threat" list, caused an estimated 8,500 infections in hospitalized patients and 700 estimated deaths in the U.S.in 2017, according to the CDC.

In reality, drug-resistant bacteria and fungi could pose a higher risk to American health than earlier estimates recommended, in line with a report launched in the present day (Nov. 13) by the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention (CDC). "I would not by any means declare success".

Each year, more than 2.8 million antibiotic-resistant infections occur across the United States, causing more than 35,000 deaths, the landmark report (pdf) found. Some worrisome new germs are emerging. More pathogens are developing new ways of fending off drugs created to kill them, and infections are spreading more widely outside hospitals. These bacteria often cause urinary tract infections for which antibiotics are prescribed. However, to place these numbers into perspective, somebody within the US catches a drug-resistant infection every 11 seconds, and somebody dies because of these infections about each quarter-hour, in response to a CDC assertion.

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But as decades passed, some antibiotics stopped working. And finally, don't take antibiotics when you don't need them.

The "report demonstrates notable progress, yet the threat is still real", CDC Director Robert Redfield, MD, said at today's press briefing. When the C. diff. illnesses and deaths are added, the annual U.S. toll of all these pathogens is more than 3 million infections and 48,000 deaths. Those numbers were based on 17 germs that were considered the greatest threat.

"We will continue to work together with the federal government, policymakers and other stakeholders on ways to address antibiotic resistance and protect public health".

Overall, public health officials acknowledge the superbug problem is probably even bigger.

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So, how do you avoid getting bacterial infections in the first place?

Jason Burnham, an infectious-disease expert at Washington University who led the research, said he and colleagues included more pathogens and a broader definition of drug resistance in their analysis than the CDC. They are a life-threatening fungus, azole-resistant Aspergillus fumigatus; a sexually transmitted infection called drug-resistant Mycoplasma genitalium; and drug-resistant form of Bordetella pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, which can be prevented with a vaccine.

The new report also revealed that the threat of antibiotic-resistant germs is much worse than thought when the alarm was first sounded. Drawn from "millions and millions" of electronic records from 700 hospitals, along with other new data sources, the 2019 report provides a clearer picture of the danger that drug-resistant bugs pose to the nation's health and global security, Craig said. By using the new methods retrospectively, the CDC calculated that the 2013 estimate missed about half of the cases and deaths.

Drug-resistant gonorrhea infections are also on the rise, with most bacteria showing resistance to all but one class of antibiotics. Because antibiotics are important in the treatment of human infections, existing AMA policy also calls for continued education on appropriate antibiotic use as well as bringing an end to the practice of using medically-important antibiotics for growth promotion in animals.

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The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) said the report illuminated the fact the problem is not going away and requires more resources to fight. "We have a long way to go before we can feel we can even get ahead of this".

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