Antibiotic resistant infections rife in US

accreditation
iStock

At least two million people per year in the United States get infections that are resistant to antibiotics and 23,000 die from those infections, a new study says.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said these numbers are only a conservative estimate. Among other reasons, they come only from infections reported in hospitals and do not address ones that occur in nursing homes and other health care facilities.

The numbers underline the importance of not overusing antibiotics.

In as many as half of the cases studied, antibiotic use was not necessary or was even inappropriate, such as in viral infections, for instance, the researchers said.

Post antibiotic era

The report also warns against the danger of running short on effective treatments against infection while the number of new antibiotics being developed fails to meet short-term needs.

"If we're not careful, we will soon be in a post antibiotic era," CDC director Tom Frieden said.

"And, in fact, for some patients and some microbes, we are already there. Losing effective treatment will not only undermine our ability to fight routine infections, but also have serious complications, serious implications, for people who have other medical problems," he said.

Most of the 18 microbes included in the study are common, and were divided into three categories depending on their degree of risk: urgent, concerning and important.

Within the urgent group, there are three of particular interest: they are called carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae, C. difficile, and drug-resistant gonorrhoea, he said.

The first of those is a "nightmare bacteria" that can essentially resist all antibiotics and kill people who get it in their blood.

C. difficile is a life-threatening infection associated with 14,000 deaths and a quarter of a million hospitalisations per year.

As for gonorrhoea, there are more than 800,000 infections in the United States each year, with a growing proportion resistant to all available medication.

The way to fight all this is to prevent infection and the spread of resistance, through immunization, safe food preparation and hand washing, the CDC said.


We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
The ANC's leadership race is heating up. Who do you think will be elected party president at Nasrec in December?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has got it in the bag
7% - 507 votes
I foresee a second term for Cyril Ramaphosa
82% - 6227 votes
Don’t discount a Zweli Mkhize win
11% - 815 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
17.84
+1.3%
Rand - Pound
20.20
-0.2%
Rand - Euro
17.54
+0.8%
Rand - Aus dollar
11.63
-0.4%
Rand - Yen
0.12
+1.2%
Gold
1,699.36
+2.3%
Silver
20.69
+8.7%
Palladium
2,225.50
+2.7%
Platinum
904.00
+4.6%
Brent Crude
85.14
-2.4%
Top 40
57,850
+0.8%
All Share
64,227
+0.8%
Resource 10
61,646
+2.3%
Industrial 25
77,524
+0.2%
Financial 15
13,816
+0.1%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE