CDC leaders alert to threat of superbugs
WASHINGTON — More than 2 million Americans develop antibiotic-resistant infections each year, and about 23,000 die as a result, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Government health officials fear those numbers, which are conservative estimates, could worsen as overuse and misuse of antibiotics cause more bacteria to develop resistance to the drugs. Without a major effort to preserve the current supply of antibiotics and to develop new ones, they say future generations will be ill-equipped to fight off the deadly superbugs.
“If we're not careful, the medicine chest will be empty when we go there to look for a lifesaving antibiotic for someone with a deadly infection,” said Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC. “But if we act now, we can preserve these medications while we continue to work on development of new medications.”
The new report, “Antibiotic Threats in the United States, 2013,” is the first comprehensive analysis of the nation's 18 most serious drug-resistant bacterial threats. The CDC, for the first time, has categorized the bacteria and the threat they pose as “urgent,” “serious” and “concerning.”
Among the three “urgent” threats is carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or CRE. Known as the “nightmare bacteria” because of its high mortality rate, CRE is resistant to nearly all antibiotics and spreads its drug resistance to other bacteria that otherwise would be vulnerable to vaccines.
Patients at long-term or complex medical care facilities and nursing homes are at the greatest risk for CRE infection, which is spread mainly by dirty hands. Medical devices such as ventilators and catheters increase the risk of infection because they allow the bacteria to get deep into a patient's body.
CRE infects about 9,300 people a year and kills an estimated 610, the CDC estimates.
Another “urgent” bacterial threat is Clostridium difficile, which attacks patients mainly in health care settings. Although not yet significantly resistant to the drugs that treat it, C-diff is a diarrheal infection usually associated with antibiotic use. It infects about 250,000 people and kills at least 14,000 annually.
Drug-resistant gonorrhea is the third “urgent” bacterial threat. The sexually transmitted disease infects nearly 250,000 people each year but kills fewer than five, according to CDC estimates.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Arizona county clears girl shooter in gun range death
- Study examines body’s bacteria on move indoors
- Judge reaffirms Texas’ ‘Robin Hood’ system of school funding unconstitutional
- Prison term for Detroit porch gunman debated
- Ferguson sued over police actions amid riots
- U.S. waffling on ISIS feeds confusion among possible allies
- Death Valley ‘sailing rocks’ linked to freeze-warm cycle
- Military pilot was killed in Va. crash
- Va.’s first couple, former Gov. and Mrs. McDonnell, often together, FBI agent testifies
- Obama rules out military response
- Chicago officer accused of putting gun in suspect’s mouth