Drug Resistant Superbugs Pose Urgent Threats, Report Says

drug_resistant_superbug_dangersAntibiotic misuse and overuse is a dangerous practice directly tied to antibiotic resistant diseases that wreak serious havoc on the body, increasing widespread drug resistance. Because antibiotic resistance has become so prevalent so rapidly, a lack of proper medication now exists

The overuse and misuse of antibiotics provides an ideal environment that encourages harmful bacteria to remain in the body, killing off good bacteria. In the meantime, the harmful bacteria grows increasingly more resistant to antibiotic treatments. This ongoing practice of overusing and misusing antibiotics has enabled, and continues to enable, bacteria to outsmart antibiotics and to survive, thrive, and strengthen so that existing antibiotic drugs are now becoming powerless against their eradication, creating serious, extensive antibiotic resistance.

Three urgent public health threats have just been identified in the United States, according to Reuters: Antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea; C. difficile, a diarrhea-causing superbug; and a class of rapidly growing killer bacteria—carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE)—called a “nightmare.”

A new U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report reveals that every year, about 2 million Americans develop serious bacterial infections that are resistant to one or more antibiotics; at least 23,000 people die from infections each year. “For organism after organism, we’re seeing this steady increase in resistance rates,” Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC, told Reuters. “We don’t have new drugs about to come out of the pipeline. If and when we get new drugs, unless we do a better job of protecting them, we’ll lose those, also.”

There are not enough emerging that have been developed and released in the past few decades to counteract resistant germs and only a few drug makers are working on antibiotic drug development to replace current medications, according to Reuters. And, the problem is not limited to the U.S. Last March, England’s chief medical officer announced that antibiotic resistance poses a “catastrophic health threat” there following a World Health Organization (WHO) report revealing that a superbug gonorrhea strain had spread to several European countries.

The CDC report ranking for drug resistant superbug threats as urgent, severe, and concerning; rankings are based on health and economic impacts, the number of cases, the ease of transmission, and available and effective antibiotics, Reuters explained. CRE has been deemed urgent—Frieden described CRE as a “nightmare bacteria” that has no cure, even with the strongest antibiotics. CRE sickens 9,300 people annually and the two most common strains—carbapenem-resistant Klebsiella spp. and carbapenem-resistant E. coli—are tied to 600 deaths yearly. “For CRE, we’re seeing increases from 1 state to 38 states in the last decade,” Frieden told Reuters.

C. difficile causes life-threatening diarrhea and typically spreads via contaminated equipment, healthcare workers, and visitors. Because of widespread hospital antibiotic use, C. difficile has become especially virulent, killing good gut bacteria for months, and enabling C. difficile to thrive, Reuters explained. C. difficile leads to 250,000 infections and 14,000 deaths each year in the U.S., costing $1 billion in excess medical costs; fatalities increased 400 percent from 2000 to 2007, Reuters reported.

Drug-resistant Neisseria gonorrhoeae leads to 246,000 U.S. cases annually; gonorrhea is becoming resistant to tetracycline, cefixime, ceftriaxone, and azithromycin, which had long been the disease’s best treatments.

“The three organisms that have been chosen as urgent are all increasing at an alarming rate to which therapies are limited,” Dr. Edward Septimus, an infectious disease expert at HCA Healthcare System in Houston, Texas, and a member of the Infectious Diseases Society of America’s Antimicrobial Resistance Workgroup, told Reuters. Septimus noted that urgent and serious categories, which include Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and drug-resistant tuberculosis, are “certainly worthy of immediate response. I do believe it’s a looming public-health crisis,” he added.

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