Progress Made, But ‘Superbugs,’ Remain a Threat

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 13, 2019 (HealthDay News) — The U.S. response to the threat of antibiotic-resistant germs has shown some progress, but these potentially deadly bugs still show no signs of stopping, a new government report warns.

Prevention efforts have reduced deaths from antibiotic-resistant bugs by 18% overall and by nearly 30% in hospitals, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed Nov. 13 in an update of its Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States report.

“This data is exciting because it shows that we are not powerless against antibiotic resistance,” said Dr. Hilary Babcock, president of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America.

Hospital epidemiologists, infection prevention specialists, researchers and pharmacists “are running critically important infection prevention and antibiotic stewardship programs that save lives and help protect patients, making hospitals safer for everyone,” Babcock said.

But antibiotic-resistant bacteria and fungi still cause more than 2.8 million infections and 35,000 deaths in the United States each year, the CDC report found.

That means someone in the United States gets an antibiotic-resistant infection every 11 seconds, on average, and every 15 minutes someone dies, according to the CDC.

The CDC highlighted the ongoing dilemma by adding two new germs to its list of urgent threats — the fungus Candida auris and the bacteria Acinetobacter.

Both germs can cause serious invasive infections in hospitalized patients with compromised immune systems, and both have shown signs of developing resistance to the most powerful and often-used antibiotics and antifungals, the CDC said.

“To underscore the threat we’re facing, Candida auris emerged on five continents at the same time,” said CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield, who added that 1 in 3 patients infected with the fungus dies.

The two additions bring the list of urgent threats to five, joining three identified in 2013 — CRE (carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae), Neisseria gonorrhoeae, and Clostridioides difficile.

C. difficile bacteria are not typically antibiotic-resistant, but are considered a threat because they opportunistically invade human digestive systems following antibiotic use and cause deadly diarrhea, the CDC said.

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