The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report today giving a snapshot of the burden and threats posed by antibiotic-resistant germs. Every year, more than two million people in the United States get infections that are resistant to antibiotics and at least 23,000 people die as a result. The report, Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States, 2013, also ranks the threats by categories of urgent, serious, and concerning.
“Antibiotic resistance is rising for many different pathogens that are threats to health,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “If we don’t act now, our medicine cabinet will be empty and we won’t have the antibiotics we need to save lives.”
The chief cause of antibiotic resistance is over-prescribing. When over used, pathogens "learn" how to outsmart the drugs used to treat them. And new antibiotics are few and far between.
“Every time antibiotics are used in any setting, bacteria evolve by developing resistance. This process can happen with alarming speed,” said Steve Solomon, M.D., director of CDC’s Office of Antimicrobial Resistance. “These drugs are a precious, limited resource—the more we use antibiotics today, the less likely we are to have effective antibiotics tomorrow.”
To combat antibiotic resistance, CDC has identified four core actions that must be taken:
- Preventing Infections, Preventing the Spread of Resistance: Avoiding infections in the first place reduces the amount of antibiotics that have to be used and reduces the likelihood that resistance will develop during therapy;
- Tracking: CDC gathers data on antibiotic-resistant infections, causes of infections and whether there are particular reasons (risk factors) that caused some people to get a resistant infection;
- Improving Antibiotic Use/Stewardship: Perhaps the single most important action needed to greatly slow the development and spread of antibiotic-resistant infections is to change the way antibiotics are used;
- Development of Drugs and Diagnostic Tests: Because antibiotic resistance occurs as part of a natural process in which bacteria evolve, we will always need new antibiotics to keep up with resistant bacteria as well as new diagnostic tests to track the development of resistance.
To see the full report, visit www.cdc.gov/drugresistance/threat-report-2013/. For more information about drug resistance and the serious impacts it has on human health, visit www.cdc.gov/drugresistance.