The US and the world continue to lose ground against antibiotic resistance, according to a new report this week at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And among other things, the number of superbugs that pose a terrible threat to American health has only increased in the last half decade.
In 2013, the CDC issued a first report of its kind on antibiotic-resistant infections in the US. He provided a conservative estimate of how often these infections get sick and kill Americans each year, and listed a rogue gallery of resistant fungi and bacteria that were becoming common problems. These microbes were classified by threat level from worrying to urgent. At that time, the CDC estimated that more than 2 million people in the US contracted these infections annually, while at least 23,000 died as a result.
In 2019, the situation only got worse. CDC's most recent estimates are that nearly 3 million people are infected with superbugs annually, while 35,900 die. And not only is the overall health impact of these infections increasing, but so are the dangerous pathogens that cause them.
“This report should alert all stakeholders to protect and improve health against infectious diseases. As long as the focus is on the United States, the findings will echo around the world, ”said Tim Jinks, head of the drug-resistant infections program at Wellcome Trust, in a statement provided to Gizmodo.
In fact, the CDC report comes in the wake of a equally depressing Canadian expert report also released this week. He found that 26 percent of Canadian infections each year resist the frontline antibiotics used to treat them – and that number could rise to 40 percent by 2050.
Two new infections have been added to the urgent list of CDC resistant infections since 2013: a resistant type of fungi called Candida auris (C. auris) and resistant to Carbapenem Acinetobacter, a gram-negative bacterium that is generally harmless to healthy people but dangerous to hospital patients. These infections come together Clostridioides difficile (C. difficile), a group of bacteria called Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) and drug-resistant Neisseria gonorrhoeae, the bug that causes the sexually transmitted disease gonorrhea.
Of these urgent infections, C. difficile believed to cause most of the damage, with an estimated 223,900 cases in hospitalized patients and 12,800 deaths annually (the CDC report is dedicated to the families of people killed by C. difficile). But there's also CRE, given the charming nickname "nightmare bacteriaBecause many infections already resist almost every available antibiotic used against it. GonorrheaIt is also on the short list of bacteria that will soon become resistant to all the frontline drugs we have for this.
Along with the risk categories included in the 2013 report, version 2019 has also now added a "Watch List" of potential threats. These include fungal strains. Aspergillus fumigatus resistant to azole class of antifungal, resistant Mycoplasma genitalium, another sexually transmitted and resistant disease Bordetella pertussis, the bacteria that causes pertussis or whooping cough (unlike most insects on the list, there is an effective childhood vaccine for the disease, but people may lose their immunity to it) faster than we thought).
"The report reiterates that this is not a stagnant problem – that we should always be vigilant because it changes," said Kathy Talkington, project manager for the Pew Charitable Trusts Antibiotic Resistance Project, by telephone.
Talkington noted that the US has made some small progress in addressing risk factors that promote antibiotic resistance.
In 2017, for example, the Food and Drug Administration imposed restrictions on the use of antibiotics in livestock, such as the requirement that any use be first signed by a veterinarian. Following the new rules, sales of animal antibiotics apparently refused, although the latest data will not be available until the end of this year. The vast majority of hospitals in the US have also implemented administration programs to reduce over-prescription antibiotics for outpatients and children, and there is evidence that prescription rates have decreased between the two groups in recent years, according to the CDC.
But the dark truth is that these little victories are just that. Overuse of antibiotics still unhindered in many areas of the world. And the process of developing new antibiotics and other therapies that can treat resistant infections has slowed rapidly as many pharmaceutical companies have decided to abandon antibiotic research altogether because of a lack of profitability. And while governments and private organizations have servant As new financing models are beginning to convince some companies to pursue antibiotic research, it is unclear whether these efforts will be timely or large enough, as appropriate.
"We did it in the past. In the early 1980s, we had the boom in antibiotic development and we were able to stay ahead of that," Talkington said. appropriate – because we are currently losing the battle. "
There is no immediate future when antibiotics stop working for all infections. But our lives and those of our loved ones change for the worse long before we get to that point. Everything from birth to receiving a life-saving transplant depends on antibiotics to keep people safe. Without significant advances against antibiotic resistance in the coming years, many of us will need unnecessarily suffer and die.