Last week, the CDC was “sounding an alarm” over the threat of antibiotic resistant superbugs. This week, the chief medical officer in England is doing the same.
“Antimicrobial resistance is a ticking time bomb not only for the UK but also for the world,” the chief medical officer in the U.K., Dame Sally Davies, wrote in the country’s second volume of its annual report. “We need to work with everyone to ensure the apocalyptic scenario of widespread antimicrobial resistance does not become a reality.”
According to the report, microbes changing has led to a new infectious disease discovery almost every year for the past 30 years.
“What I uncovered was quite a horror story in antimicrobial resistance,” Davies said in a video detailing the second volume of her annual report.
Watch Davis talk about the conclusions:
The CDC acknowledged last week that while superbugs, those resistant to antibiotics, are still uncommon, in the first six months of last year, nearly 200 U.S. hospitals – about 4 percent – saw at least one case.
Health officials call them “nightmare bacteria” that have now been seen in 42 states and threaten to spread their resistance to more and more of their bacterial brethren.
“We only have a limited window of opportunity to stop spread” of these superbugs, said CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden. At a press conference Tuesday, he said he was “sounding an alarm.”
Here’s more from Frieden:
The CDC’s Vital Signs report focused on the superbugs that have emerged from one specific bacteria group. At least five of the 70 kinds in that family have developed resistance to a class of antibiotic called carbapenems – considered one of the last lines of defense against hard-to-treat bugs.
Some of those bacteria seem to have terrifying potential. Among them: Klebsiella pneumoniae, a bug that killed at least seven patients at a federal research hospital in Bethesda, Md.; and those made resistant by a gene called NDM-1, named for New Delhi.
U.S. health officials are keeping a close eye on the NDM-1 superbugs, which first showed up in India in 2010 and have been seen as more of a concern in other parts of the world. Of the 30 cases in the U.S., about half have been reported since July, including eight patients at a Denver hospital.
An op-ed in the Denver Post by medical professionals emphasizes the need to re-evaluate the use of antibiotics in general:
To effectively combat superbugs like CRE, we need to confront the problem at hand that has allowed them to thrive — the overuse of antibiotics in health care. Studies have shown that one-third of antibiotics prescribed to patients in hospitals are unnecessary.
Improving the use of antibiotics in a hospital can actually save the hospital $400,000 or more per year. The entire health-care system benefits when we improve antibiotic use and decrease drug-resistance.
In Davis’ report, she makes 17 recommendations to fight against superbugs. They include keeping close tabs on infectious disease prevalence around the world, educating the public before they travel to a foreign countries and improved testing for infections.
Davis, in the video, also noted that few new antibiotics are being developed because it is not considered cost-effective for pharmaceutical companies to do so.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report. Featured image via Shutterstock.com.