Federal health officials indicate that the number of deaths linked to antibiotic-resistant “superbug” infections is much higher than previously believed, sickening nearly 3 million individuals in the United States ever year, and resulting in more than 35,000 deaths.
In a report issued this week by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), titled Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States, officials indicate that the number of antibiotic-resistent infection deaths far surpass prior estimates, despite recent improvements to prevent the spread of “superbugs” and reduce the overuse of antibiotics where they are not medically needed.
The data updates a report previously issued in 2013, indicating that antibiotic-resistant bacteria and fungi cause more than 2.8 million infections in the U.S. each year. When the data includes resistant Clostridiodes difficile, or c. diff, the number reaches more than 3 million infections and 48,000 deaths.
The CDC indicates that nearly twice as many annual deaths from drug-resistant superbugs occurred in the new report years than were originally outlined in the CDC 2013 report. The new findings include data sources not previously available, such as electronic health data and other CDC health data sources to compile the report.
The report indicates improvements have been made in fighting antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Deaths from antibiotic-resistant infections were reduced by 18% overall and by nearly 30% in healthcare settings
Superbugs commonly found in hospitals caused more than 85% of the total deaths calculated in the report. Without continued efforts progress could be stalled or reversed as antibiotic-resistant bacteria continues to proliferate.
Antibiotic-resistant E. coli was detected in the U.S. for the first time in 2016. In fact, many nursing home residents carry drug resistant superbugs into the hospitals when admitted for medical concerns.
On average someone in the U.S. gets an antibiotic-resistant infection every 11 seconds and every 15 minutes someone dies.
More than a half million drug resistant gonorrhea cases occur each year, twice as many reported in 2013. Cases of resistant streptococcus infections quadrupled since 2013.
The new report also categorized the top 18 antibiotic-resistant threats, including two new threats: candida auris and carabpenem-resistant Acinetobacter. Of the 18, five are considered urgent, with carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), Neisseria gonorrhoeae, and Clostridiodes difficile being added to the urgent list.
The CDC also included trends of resistant infections to focus on how they’ve changed and lead to deaths over time. For example, resistance to essential antibiotics commonly used to treat infections is increasing in 7 of the 18 germs on the list.
Antibiotic overprescribing and healthcare overuse of the drugs are largely to blame for the proliferation of thes superbugs infections. Experts point to new areas of research to help develop new antibiotics as well prescription oversight to help curb the widely increasing threat.
Overall, the report establishes a new national baseline of infections and deaths from antibiotic resistant germs and highlights the work rapid detection and prevention strategies have done to help reduce some superbugs.