23,000 Americans Die Annually from Antibiotic-Resistant Infections

Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Antibiotic-resistant bacteria CRE (photo: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Tens of thousands of Americans die every year from infections that doctors can’t treat with antibiotics, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

 

The CDC said in a new report that at least two million people annually become sick from antibiotic-resistant bacteria, with 23,000 dying from these infections. It is the first time that the government has compiled and released such statistics.

 

The number of deaths is considerably lower than previous estimates, such as when the CDC said in 2007 that 100,000 people died each year from infections that developed while they were in the hospital.

 

Agency officials attributed the lower figure to researchers being more conservative with their number-crunching by leaving out cases in which a drug-resistant infection did not cause a death, but was merely present in the body.

 

In the CDC report, experts raised the issue of whether factory-farming practices have contributed to the problem of antibiotic-resistant infections in humans. Specifically, the concern is over the habit of giving too many antibiotics to animals, making them too prevalent in the food chain.

 

Some drug-resistant bacteria are becoming widespread, although they haven’t killed a significant number of people yet. One type, known as CRE (carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae), was found in healthcare facilities in 44 states.

 

On the one hand, CRE causes only 600 fatalities each year. But on the other, this type of bacteria has become resistant to nearly all antibiotics on the market, leaving doctors with no real solutions for stopping it.

-Noel Brinkerhoff

 

To Learn More:

Antibiotic-Resistant Infections Lead to 23,000 Deaths a Year, C.D.C. Finds (by Sabrina Tavernise, New York Times)

Antibiotic / Antimicrobial Resistance: Threat Report 2013 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the US (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Urgently Needed Antibiotics Research Is Put on Risky Fast Track (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

“Near Absence” of Antibiotics to Combat Deadly New Bacterial Strains (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

80% of U.S. Antibiotics Go to Farm Animals (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

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