U.S. Health Officials Caution Fast Rise of ‘Superbugs’ Present Public Health Epidemic
By Clete Campbell
We are officially living in a medical disaster movie.
What seems like a shock news story lead is actually the alarming medial truth of “superbugs.” For as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention terms it, we are now living in a “Post-Antibiotic Era” of drug-resistant superbugs able to resist treatment from antibiotics.
The health total is already staggering. A new CDC report shows drug-resistant “superbugs” are infecting 2.8 million people and causing more than 35,000 deaths annually.
The CDC’s report shows a new “superbug” infection every 11 seconds and a death every 15 minutes. Those numbers are double the annual deaths from antibiotic infections the CDC totaled in its 2013 report, which likely undercounted numbers.
The CDC confirms there are now drug-resistant bugs in every U.S. state and around the globe.
CDC director Robert Redfield is urging the American public to “stop referring to a coming post-antibiotic era – it’s already here.”
“The Walking Dead” is less scary than real life these days.
In his letter detailing the 2019 CDC “Superbug” report’s finding, Redfield bluntly said, “You and I are living in a time when some miracle drugs no longer perform miracles and families are being ripped apart by a microscopic enemy.
The CDC is recommending a new baseline of infections and deaths from antibiotic-resistant germs. The CDC’s proposed threat chart would categorize the threats as urgent, serious or concerning. The baseline is part of the CDC’s broad public health effort to prevent infections in health-care facilities, promote responsible use of antibiotics in humans and animals and halt the spread of new, dangerous germs.
The CDC report classifies 18 bacteria and fungi public health officials must monitor. Five bugs are identified as “urgent threats.” The urgent threat bugs include Candida auris, a drug-resistant fungus that began spreading among hospital and nursing home patients in 2015, and carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter, which causes pneumonia and other infections in hospital intensive care units.
But the main threat is what the CDC calls the “nightmare bacteria:” Carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae (CRE)
Now more than ever, the CDC stresses, strong daily hand hygiene and personal flu prevention practices are essential to both our personal and public health.
The good news is the USA’s hospitals and health providers are strengthening their defenses against “superbugs.” Hospital deaths from anti-resistant infections fell 28 percent from 2012-17. Greg Frank, an infectious disease expert at the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, told USA Today that the report is a “really good first step” to describe and identify the worldwide challenge of curbing drug-resistant infections.
But the cold reality, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine caution, is that drug-resistant infections might kill as many as 162,000 Americans each year.
“I think the picture is only going to get worse,” Frank told USAT. “I hope this world drive action.”
But the fight against antibiotic-resistant “superbugs” is far from hopeless.
“(The CDC’s) data is exciting because it shows that we are not powerless against anti-biotic resistance,” said Hilary Babcock, president of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America. “We must continue to fund and support effective infection prevention and antibiotic stewardship programs in every healthcare setting and use every tool we have to prevent the spread of antibiotic resistance.”