The United States and the world continue to lose ground against antibiotic resistance, according to a new report out this week from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And among other things, the number of superbugs that has caused a major threat to American health has only gotten bigger over the last half decade.
In 2013, the CDC i ssued a first of its kind report on antibiotic-resistant infections in the US It provided a conservative estimate of how often these infections were fatal and killed Americans every year, as well as listed in the gallery a rogues of resistant fungi and bacteria that have become common problems. These germs are ranked by threat level, from immediate concern. After that, the CDC estimates that more than 2 million people in the United States contract these infections annually, while at least 23,000 die as a result.
By 2019, the situation only worsened. The latest estimates by the CDC 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 growing, so are the harmful pathogens that cause them.
"This report should raise the alarm for all concerned about protecting and improving health against infectious diseases. While its focus is on the United States, the findings have resonated worldwide. , "Tim Jinks, head of UK-based research charity Wellcome Trust's Drug-Resistant Infections Program, said in a statement issued to Gizmodo.
In fact, the CDC report comes on the heels of a equally depressed report from Canadian experts that was also released this week. It has been found that 26 percent of infections that Canadians suffer each year oppose front-line 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 infections since 2013: a tough variety of fungi called Candida auris ( C. auris ) and Carbapenem -resistant Acinetobacter a gram of negative bacteria that is often harmless to healthy people but harmful to hospital patients. These infections join Clostridioides difficile ( C. Difficile ), a group of bacteria called Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), and are resistant to the drug Neisseria gonorrhoeae is the bug that causes sexually transmitted gonorrhea.
Of these immediate infections, C. difficile is thought to cause lion harm, with 223,900 estimated cases in hospitalized patients including 12,800 deaths annually ( the CDC report focuses on the families of people killed by C. difficile) . But there is CRE, too, given the attractive nickname of " nightmare bacteria " as many infections are resistant to almost every available antibiotic used against it. Gonorrhea is, in short, a list of bacteria that can easily become resistant to all the front-line drugs we have for it.
Along with the risk categories included in the 2013 report, the 2019 version has now also added a "Watch List" of potential threats. These include fungus strains Aspergillus fumigatus resistant to azole class of antifungals, resistant Mycoplasma genitalium another sexually transmitted disease, and resistant Bordetella pertussis bacteria that cause pertussis, or whooping cough (unlike most bugs on the list, there is an effective childhood vaccine for the disease, but people can lose their immunity more faster than we thought).
"The report proves that this is not an unstable problem – that we should be vigilant because it is changing," Kathy Talkington, director of the Antibiotic Resistance Project at the Pew Charitable Trusts, told Gizmodo through a phone.
Talkington claims that the US has made some small progress in combating the risk factors that promote antibiotic resistance.
For example, in 2017, the Food and Drug Administration of the Government established restrictions on the use of antibiotics for animals, such as the mandate that any use be first signed by a veterinarian. Following the new rules, sales of animal antibiotics have apparently declined although the latest data will not be available until the end of this year. Most hospitals in the US have also implemented care programs that mean reducing overprescription of antibiotics in patients and children, and there is evidence that prescription rates have dropped in both groups in recent years, according to the CDC.
But the somber truth is that these minor achievements are just that . Rampant antibiotic overuse continues unabated in many parts of the world. And developing a pipeline of new antibiotics and other therapies that can treat resistant infections has slowed to a crawl, as many pharmaceutical companies have decided to abandon antibiotic research altogether due to a deficiency. of profitability. And while governments and private organizations have created created new funding models that are starting to convince some companies to pursue antibiotic research, it's unclear if these efforts are it would be timely or great to build things.
"We have succeeded in the past. In the early 1980s, we have developed antibiotics and we have been able to stay ahead of this issue," Talkington said. "We still have the ability and ability to do it today, but we need political will and sufficient resources – because at the moment, we are losing the battle."
There is no immediate future where antibiotics will stop working for all infections. But our lives and our loved ones will change for the worse before reaching that point. Everything from birth to receiving a life-changing transplant relies on antibiotics to keep people safe. Without any significant advance against antibiotic resistance in the years to come, many of us will suffer suffer and die .