Antibiotic-Resistant Infections Kill 23K a Year—at Least
CDC report sets baseline for first time
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted Sep 17, 2013 7:55 AM CDT
Antibiotic resistance is already leading to 23,000 deaths annually.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – With antibiotic resistance building, experts fear a day when everyday bacterial infections could once again be life-threatening—and a new federal study shows "we're getting closer and closer to the cliff," says a CDC rep. Already, two million people each year suffer from antibiotic-resistant infections, and 23,000 of them die, the study suggests. And that could just be the best-case scenario, based on very conservative estimates that count only deaths directly tied to such infections, the New York Times reports. "This is a floor," says a top CDC official. "We wanted the cleanest number, the least subjective number." The Times and Reuters note the report specifies 17 drug-resistant bacteria and one fungus, including antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea; C. difficile, which causes potentially fatal diarrhea; and CRE, which is now resistant to almost every single antibiotic.

The study is the first of its kind conducted by the federal government, and the accompanying report warns against the overuse of antibiotics, both in people and farm animals. As Ezra Klein points out at the Washington Post, "it is very hard to imagine that North Dakota and Louisiana need to be prescribing antibiotics at twice the rate of California and Colorado"—but that's the case. And here's the "really scary part": New antibiotics are being developed far more slowly than just a few decades ago, he notes. The CDC director echoes that: "We don't have new drugs about to come out of the pipeline. If and when we get new drugs, unless we do a better job of protecting them, we'll lose those, also."

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Sep 17, 2013 7:58 PM CDT
This has been a problem at least since the "black clap" in Viet Nam in the sixties. Antibiotics kill bacteria; they do not kill viruses. Yet physicians continue to prescribe them promiscuously and that includes prophylactically (when patients do not have compromised immune systems and are not unhygienic). Why? Business: patients want them and doctors are just plain afraid not to. They are a "miracle" drug and patients think they help things like the flu; the common cold and they do not. Patients are not only typical of most people who comment here (junk science; myths; half understanding; resistance to enlightenment; "knowledge" derived uncritically from sources that are hoaxes, scams and that have hidden agenda) but they will distrust a doctor who tries to explain this to them and the doctor loses a patient. Bacteria reproduce and evolution rapidly creates ones that are resistant to the drugs. So, essentially antibiotics become ineffective: a wonderful thing of the past destroyed by the market forces of our system and the perennial anti-intellectualism of most common folk. Conditions that could have been defeated become scourges, epidemics and plagues - again!
Sep 17, 2013 5:49 PM CDT
Big Meat kills; they use antibiotics for cheap, rapid growth of cattle, chickens, and pigs right before slaughter, which has caused the rise of superbugs. They, along with farm-state politicians and the lapdog FDA should be tried for manslaughter of thousands of American citizens just for stinking corporate profits.
Sep 17, 2013 11:40 AM CDT
It happened to me! MRSA after a surgery. Took a long time to clear it up, including another surgery to clean it out of my abdomen.. very scary stuff, there.