Every year, more than two million people in the United States get infections that are resistant to antibiotics and at least 23,000 people die as a result, according to a new report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  The report, Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States, 2013, presents the first snapshot of the burden and threats posed by antibiotic-resistant germs having the most impact on human health.  The threats are ranked in categories: urgent, serious, and concerning. 

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

The most urgent infections were Clostridium difficile, Carbapenem-resistant enterobacterioacea (CRE) and drug resistant Neisseriae Gonorrohoeae.  CDC estimates that 23,000 people die every year of antibiotic resistant infections and cautioned that the U.S. could enter a "post antibiotic" era when antibiotics are no longer effective.

The American Meat Institute, in its overview of the report, noted that antibiotic overuse is the single most important factor leading to antibiotic resistance, according to the report. "Patients need to understand that antibiotics are not the solution for every illness," Steven Solomon, MD, director of the office of anti-microbial resistance said. "It's important that people not take antibiotics when they aren't necessary. It contributes to resistance, and it also has consequences to the patient in the form of side effects."

The use of antibiotics in animal agriculture is also discussed in the report, with the CDC noting that as with humans, it is important to use antibiotics in animals responsibly. To help ensure that medically important antibiotics are used judiciously in food-producing animals, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently proposed guidance describing a pathway for using these drugs only when medically necessary and targeting their use to only address diseases and health problems.

“Every time antibiotics are used in any setting, bacteria evolve by developing resistance.  This process can happen with alarming speed,” said Steve Solomon, M.D., director of CDC’s Office of Antimicrobial Resistance.  “These drugs are a precious, limited resource—the more we use antibiotics today, the less likely we are to have effective antibiotics tomorrow.”

Among the solutions to slowing the development and spread of antibiotic-resistant infections is to change the way antibiotics are used. Up to half of antibiotic use in humans and much of antibiotic use in animals is unnecessary, the report states.To see the full report, please visit www.cdc.gov/drugresistance/threat-report-2013/.

Sources: CDC, AMI