As certain as death and taxes, dangerous contagious bacteria and pathogens will forever be a part of our lives. And in these scary days of evolving superbugs, we need to be vigilant 24/7 in our hand hygiene practices.
The sun may be setting on the 2016-17 flu and cold season, but we can hardly sleep on other ever present daily viral disease threats.
And experts note hand sanitizer – like B4 Brands’ Avant series — is an indisputable daily germ and bacteria-fighting super weapon. Recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control when soap and water are not readily available, hand sanitizer stops derails the spread of germs that cause illness.
“(Hand sanitizer) cleans your hands much better than soap and water, so it reduces the bacterial burden to a much better extent than soap and water,” University of Toronto microbiologist James Scott told Best Health Magazine. “And your hands tend to stay cleaner longer than if you were to use soap and water.”
The World Health Organization’s 2017 list of antibiotic-resistant “priority pathogens” warns superbugs are posing great threat to human health and killing millions of people every year. The WHO notes new antibiotics are essential to fighting these extremely dangerous and potentially catastrophic pathogens, which number nearly two dozen. A CDC report advises of possible extreme epidemic consequences if the U.S. does not quickly act to combat the growing threat of antibiotic-resistant infections.
“This list is not meant to scare people about new superbugs,” Marie-Paul Kieny, an assistant director-general at WHO, told the Washington Post in January. “It’s intended to signal research and development priorities to address urgent public health threats.”
The WHO’s highest priority superbugs are responsible for severe infections and high mortality rates. Hospitalized patients in intensive care or using ventilators and blood catheters, along with transplant recipients and people undergoing chemotherapy, are most at risk of falling victim to superbugs. And without advancements in antibiotics, the WHO notes, the worldwide superbug epidemic will only get worse.
It sounds like a summer health crisis thriller, or a plot out of “The Walking Dead,” but alas, it’s the present reality of healthcare’s greatest viral disease threat. Among the WHO’s highest-priority group of superbugs is CRE, or carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, which U.S. health officials have dubbed “nightmare bacteria.” In some instances, CRE is fatal for up to 50 percent of patients who become infected. A recent fatal U.S. CRE case found the bacteria was resistant to all 26 antibiotics available in the U.S. Other WHO high-priority superbugs include Acinetobacter baummannii, which typically causes infections in ICUs and settings with very sick patients.
While these pathogens are not widespread, “the burden for society is now alarming,” Kieny told the Post.
The WHO’s second and third tiers of superbugs – high and medium priority categories – address bacteria that cause more common diseases, including food poisoning caused by salmonella.
While they’re not associated with significant mortality rates, “they have a dramatic health and economic impact, particularly in low-income countries,” Kieny said.
Compounding the world superbug crisis is the troubling fact that no new classes of antibiotics have made it to the market since 1984, according to the Pew Charitable Trust’s antibiotic-resistance project. According to Allan Coukell, Pew’s senior director of health programs, there are not enough drugs in the pipeline to meet future needs. Worsening the issue, Coukell notes, of the 40 antibiotics in clinical development in the U.S, “fewer than half even have the potential to treat the pathogens identified by WHO,” he said.
“And based on history, most of those will fail to reach the clinic for reasons of efficacy or safety. So the outlook is grim.”
Only one of five drugs that reach in the initial phase of human testing receive approval from the Food and Drug Administration. With the CDC estimating antibiotic-resistant infections killing an 23,000 Americans annually, we need to be more vigilant than ever in stopping the transmission of even the most common germs and pathogens. Because staying a step ahead of superbugs is a must when fighting this unpredictable, so-far unstoppable health hazard.
And staying safe starts with smart personal hand hygiene.
Here is the WHO’s 2017 list of priority superbugs:
Priority 1: Critical
- Acinetobacter baumannii, carbapenem-resistant
- Pseudomonas aeruginosa, carbapenem-resistant
- Enterobacteriaceae, carbapenem-resistant, ESBL-producing
Priority 2: High
- Enterococcus faecium, vancomycin-resistant
- Staphylococcus aureus, methicillin-resistant, vancomycin-intermediate and resistant
- Helicobacter pylori, clarithromycin-resistant
- Campylobacter spp., fluoroquinolone-resistant
- Salmonellae, fluoroquinolone-resistant
- Neisseria gonorrhoeae, cephalosporin-resistant, fluoroquinolone-resistant
Priority 3: Medium
- Streptococcus pneumoniae, penicillin-non-susceptible
- Haemophilus influenzae, ampicillin-resistant
- Shigella spp., fluoroquinolone-resistant