News / Health

Report: Drug-Resistant Bacterial Infections Growing in US

FILE - U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Director Julie Gerberding holds up a staph awareness poster while testifying before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on drug-resistant infections and the consequences for public health, on Capitol Hill in Washington, November 2007.
FILE - U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Director Julie Gerberding holds up a staph awareness poster while testifying before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on drug-resistant infections and the consequences for public health, on Capitol Hill in Washington, November 2007.
Jessica Berman
A new U.S. government report says more than two million Americans fall ill each year with drug-resistant infections, and 23,000 of them are dying as a result. Officials warn that steps must be taken now to preserve the effectiveness of antibiotic drugs.

The head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] said the estimate of two million drug resistant infections a year is likely an underestimate, and that the number probably will grow.  

Without urgent action to reverse that trend, warned Tom Frieden, whose agency wrote the report, the miracle drugs to fight them won’t be available in the future.

“If we are not careful, the medicine chest will be empty when we go there to look for a lifesaving antibiotic for someone with a deadly infection. But if we act now, we can preserve these medications while we continue to work on development of new medications.”

Among the most worrying pathogens, the report names a drug-resistant strain of the venereal disease gonorrhea and C. difficile, which causes about one quarter of a million hospitalizations in the United States annually, and at least 14,000 deaths.

Experts say a third bacterium, which goes by the initials CRE, is probably the most dangerous. It is resistant to almost all currents antibiotics, and has a very high fatality rate.

Drug resistance develops through the overuse and inappropriate use of antibacterial agents. These can be: Doctors prescribing them to patients who have viral infections that are not affected by medicine meant to fight bacteria; patients not taking all of their medicine as prescribed, so the bacteria making them sick are only weakened, not killed; antibiotic use in healthy farm animals to prevent illness and promote growth. Antibiotic residues left in meat and animal products can then lead to drug resistance in humans.

To limit the spread of resistant infections, experts recommend wider use of routine immunizations, as well as handwashing in hospitals and other health care facilities, which are reservoirs of the harmful infections. Also, the report urges handwashing by food handlers.   

In a telebriefing with reporters, Michael Bell, deputy director of the Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion at CDC, said patients also can play a role in preserving the effectiveness of antibiotics by asking health care providers a few simple questions.

“'What are you doing to make sure that my mom doesn't get an antibiotic resistant infection?' Questions like that can raise awareness and open a dialogue that can be very helpful,” said Bell.

Patients recovering from joint replacement surgeries, organ transplants and cancer therapy rely on effective antibiotics to fight off infections that often follow those treatments. Experts say the increase in drug-resistant bacteria could affect the ability to safely offer people many modern medical advances.

You May Like

Anti-Terror Drills Highlight China’s Push Into Central Asia

China, Russia, several central Asian countries wrap up massive anti terrorism military drills in Inner Mongolia More

Erdogan’s First Step: Secure More Power in New Role in Turkey

Erdogan was sworn in as Turkey's first popularly elected president on Thursday; he picked former foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu as PM More

Pakistan Army Fails to Break Political Deadlock

PM Sharif claims he didn't ask army to defuse crisis; military rejects claim More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assaulti
X
Daniel Schearf
August 29, 2014 9:30 PM
After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.

AppleAndroid