|Experts have warned the emergence of germs that are invincible against antibiotics and other drugs as well as their threat to public health. / Photo by Konstantin Pelikh via 123rf|
Large-scale infections and dangers of drug-resistant germs indicate a bigger threat to public health than first thought, based on the anticipated report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The report shows that someone in the US is infected with an infection from a superbug at an average rate of 11 seconds, and every 15 minutes, someone dies from that infection.
Experts have warned the emergence of germs that are invincible against antibiotics and other drugs as well as their threat to public health. As superbugs grow more resistant against antimicrobial drugs, it is slowly becoming a global crisis as the dangers become more prominent in countries of all income levels.
CDC's urgent list
The CDC report cited five superbugs into the agency's "urgent threat list"—that's more germs compared to 2013, the last time the agency published a report on antibiotic resistance. These germs are Clostridioides difficile (C. diff.), drug-resistant gonorrhea, carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae (CRE), carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter, and Candida auris.
C. diff. is the deadliest drug-resistant germ in the CDC's list. The infection of this pathogen is linked to antibiotic use, in which C. diff. can cause deadly diarrhea when medicine kills beneficial bacteria in the gut that would normally keep the digestive system under control, the Washington Post reports.
It adds that the germ causes over three million infections and 48,000 deaths in the US annually—a major jump from 2013 estimates of two million infections and 23,000 deaths.
Drug-resistant gonorrhea, a sexually transmitted disease, and CRE are also long-recognized dangers in the CDC list. Carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter, which developed resistance to nearly all antibiotics and Candida auris, which caused concerns among health officials around the world, are the two new additions to the list.
"A lot of progress has been made, but the bottom line is that antibiotic resistance is worse than we previously thought," said Michael Craig, the CDC’s senior adviser on antibiotic resistance.
One good news that came from the report is that the number of deaths due to these antibiotic-resistant germs—along with 18 others—dropped to 30 percent since 2013, mainly due to improved hospital methods to track and slow down the spread of resistant germs.
However, there are still trends that are concerning public health: the rising number of infections beyond hospitals and the increasing ability of drug-resistant germs to split their threatening resistance genes to other bacterias, the Washington Post says.
It adds that not only do these hard-to-treat infections pose a threat for patients in the hospital and those with weak immune systems, they are also a risk to people who undergo common surgeries and therapies like knee replacements, organ transplants, and cancer treatments. The overuse of antibiotics is seen as the likely reason for the significant increase in resistant infections.
A global crisis
Germs growing more resistant against antibiotics, antivirals, and antifungals is becoming a global crisis, according to a UN committee report released earlier this year.
The report said drug-resistant diseases and infections account for at least 700,000 deaths worldwide annually—among them are 230,000 deaths from multidrug-resistant tuberculosis. It added that drug-resistant germs will cause up to 10 million deaths annually by 2030 if there is no global action.
According to CNN, the UN report noted that the development and spread of resistance against medication increase with improper use and abuse of existing antimicrobial agents in humans, as well as in animals and plants. Other factors that account for the rise and spread of these superbugs are:
• Lack of access to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene;
• Poor infection and disease prevention methods;
• Lack of access to affordable antimicrobials, vaccines, and diagnostics;
• Weak health, food, and feed production; and
• Poor food safety and waste management systems.
Antimicrobial resistance will ultimately put at risk the global progress in improving health, food security, clean water, and sanitation, as well as sustainable consumption and production, according to the Interagency Coordination Group, the UN committee that carried out the report.
A way to prevent this from happening is through the report's One Health concept, which the CDC said recognizes the interconnection between people's health and the health of animals and the environment while looking to achieve optimal health outcomes. Such an approach is crucial, considering that the CDC estimates show 6 out of 10 infectious diseases found in humans are spread from animals.
"[One Health emphasizes] the interdependence and interconnectedness of humans, animals, and the environment," as many people work in silos, Melinda Pettigrew, a professor of epidemiology in the Department of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases at the Yale School of Public Health, told CNN via email.
"If we are going to develop successful strategies to reduce the impact and spread of antimicrobial resistance the scientists, clinicians, veterinarians, policymakers, and members of the community will have to work together to address the problem from a One Health perspective," Pettigrew explained.
|Antimicrobial resistance will ultimately put at risk the global progress in improving health, food security, clean water, and sanitation, as well as sustainable consumption and production. / Photo by Alexander Raths via 123rf|