These Are the 12 Bacteria We Should Worry About Most

According to the WHO
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 27, 2017 12:56 PM CST
In this Monday, May 17, 2010 file photo, Dr. Mansour Samadpour points out a growth of of salmonella in a petri dish at IEH Laboratories in Lake Forest Park, Wash.   (Elaine Thompson)

(Newser) – The World Health Organization has issued a list of the top dozen bacteria most dangerous to humans, warning that doctors are fast running out of treatment options. In a press briefing on Monday, the UN health agency said its list is meant to promote the development of medicines for the most worrying drug-resistant bacteria. The WHO's Marie-Paule Kieny said that if such priorities were left to market forces alone, "the new antibiotics we most urgently need are not going to be developed in time." She estimated that it would take up to a decade for new medications. Among the experts' and the WHO's most pressing concerns were how deadly the infections were, whether treatment required a long hospital stay, and how many current medicines exist, reports the AP.

At the top of the WHO's list, which is divided into three parts, is Acinetobacter baumannii, a group of bacteria that cause a range of diseases from pneumonia to blood or wound infections. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 23,000 people die each year in the US from infections caused by resistant bacteria. Here are the twelve, with their assigned priority level:

  1. Acinetobacter baumannii (critical)
  2. Pseudomonas aeruginosa (critical)
  3. Enterobacteriaceae (critical)
  4. Enterococcus faecium (high)
  5. Staphylococcus aureus (high)
  6. Helicobacter pylori (high)
  7. Campylobacter spp. (high)
  8. Salmonellae (high)
  9. Neisseria gonorrhoeae (high)
  10. Streptococcus pneumoniae (medium)
  11. Haemophilus influenzae (medium)
  12. Shigella spp. (medium)

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