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

Hezbollah Chief Says Does Not Want War But Ready for One

VOA's Jerusalem correspondent reports that with an Israeli election looming and Hezbollah's involvement in Syria, neither side appears interested in a wider conflict More

Multimedia VOA SPECIAL REPORT: Despite Danger, Best US Minds Battle Deadly Virus

Scientists at America's premier biological research center race in military confinement to find effective drugs, speedier tests and a safe vaccine amid the deadliest outbreak of Ebola in history More

Kurdish Poet Battles to Defend Language, Culture

Kawa Nemir's work is an example of what he sees as an irreversible cultural and political assertiveness among Kurds in Turkey More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unresti
X
Heather Murdock
January 30, 2015 8:00 PM
Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Mobile Infrared Scanners May Help Homeowners Save Energy

Mobile photo scanners have been successfully employed for navigational purposes, such as Google Maps. Now, a group of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says the same technology could help homeowners better insulate their houses and save some money. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid