By Dan Whitcomb
(Reuters) – Nearly twice as many people die in the United States from antibiotic-resistant infections than previously believed, US health officials said Wednesday as so-called "superbags" alert experts to their rate of growth and spread.
Issuing its first comprehensive report on the growing threat to health in six years, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it has estimated that 2.8 million antibiotic-resistant infections occur each year, killing 35,000 people.
A 2013 CDC study estimated that 2 million Americans were infected with superbugs each year, leading to at least 23,000 deaths. true, "Dr Robert Redfield, CDC director, said in a statement.
Global health officials have repeatedly warned of the growth of bacteria and other microbes that are resistant to the most available drugs, raising the spectrum of non-communicable infectious diseases that can spread quickly.
The drug's resistance is driven by the misuse and overuse of antibiotics and other antimicrobials, which prompts bacteria to evolve to survive by finding new ways to beat the drugs.
The CDC said higher numbers in 2019 were the result of new and better data sources, not an increase in deaths, and that, in fact, prevention efforts had reduced deaths from hard-core bacteria by 18%.
A spokeswoman for the nonprofit National Resources Defense Council, however, called even the new CDC estimate too low, saying a recent study by the University of Washington put more than 160,000 dead.
"There is no doubt that drug-resistant infections are on the rise. While the CDC's estimates are better, they remain conservative, "said Avinash Kar, a senior lawyer for the NDRC.
"Resolving antibiotic resistance will require an end to the uncontrolled overuse of these drugs in livestock. Until then, these lifesaving drugs will succeed when the patients need them – and, as the CDC admits, "everyone is at risk," Carr said.
The NRDC said nearly two-thirds of antibiotics, important to human medicine, are sold for livestock use, mass-distributed in feed or water, often to non-sick animals.
The CDC said the antibiotic-resistant "list of threats" now contained 18 microbes, including two more that were considered urgent: drug resistant Candida auris and carbipenem resistant to Acinetobacter.
The 2013 report identified three urgent threats: resistant to carbapenem Enterobacteriaceae or CRE, Neisseria gonorrhoeae and Clostridioides difficile.
(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb in Culver City, California; editing by Richard Young)