MRSA Rate Drops, CDC Releases Plan For Drug-Resistant Threats

Federal health officials have unveiled a new plan for combating antibiotic-resistant infection threats. The plan comes as a new study reveals that progress is already being made on some fronts.  

On September 13, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a new report, Antibiotic- Resistance Threats in the United States. The report gives the current status of infectious illnesses and diseases that resist treatment from most antibiotics and lays out how the CDC intends to fight them.

According to the CDC, antibiotic resistant infections are responsible for 23,000 deaths per year and more than 2 million illnesses. However, a report published on the same day in the medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine suggests things are getting better, at least as far as one superbug is concerned. That study looks at one of the most prevalent antibiotic-resistant infections, Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and finds that the number of cases is on the decline.

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According to the JAMA Internal Medicine study, the number annual of MRSA infections declined from 2005 to 2011. There were an estimated 80,461 MRSA infections in 2011. Most of the decline occurred due to reductions in hospital-acquired infections as prevention efforts took hold in hospitals nationwide.

New “Superbugs” On The Rise

According to the CDC, however, there are more types of antibiotic-resistant infections to be worried about besides MRSA, due to the overuse and improper use of antibiotics, which can give rise to new superbugs that resist most forms of treatment. The report identified the antibiotic-resistant bugs of most concern, including carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), drug-resistant gonorrhea, and Clostridium difficile, also known as C. diff.

While C. diff is not drug resistant, its spread is related to antibiotic use, the CDC warns. C. diff causes about 250,000 hospitalizations and 14,000 deaths annually in the U.S.

The CDC report identified four tactics required for halting the spread of current drug-resistant infections and preventing new ones from being born:

  • Preventing infections and thus preventing the spread of drug resistance.
  • Tracking resistance patterns
  • Improving use of current antibiotics
  • Developing new antibiotics and test to detect drug-resistant infections

“Antibiotic resistance is rising for many different pathogens that are threats to health,” CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said in a press release. “If we don’t act now, our medicine cabinet will be empty and we won’t have the antibiotics we need to save lives.”

These latest reports come on the heels of a study in JAMA Internal medicine earlier this month that revealed that hospital-acquired infections cost the U.S. $10 billion every year.

More than 2 million hospital infections and 1.5 million nursing home and long term care infections occur each year, according to the CDC.

In recent years, an increasing number of medical malpractice lawsuits over hospital infections are being filed, as many experts believe that these infections can be prevented with the exercise of reasonable care.

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