Facts about recent upsurge in antimicrobial resistance

The Society of Infectious Diseases Pharmacists in Austin, TX, recently convened a panel with other health care organizations to discuss the recent increase in antibiotic-resistant infections. Here are some facts on the topic compiled from sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration:

  • Each year, nearly two million patients in the United States acquire an infection while in a hospital, and 90,000 of these patients die from infections contracted during their stay.
  • More than 70% of bacteria that cause hospital-acquired infections are resistant to at least one of the drugs most commonly used to treat them.
  • In parts of the United States, up to 30% of infections from the bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae — the most common cause of bacterial pneumonia, meningitis, and ear infections — are no longer vulnerable to penicillin.
  • Nearly all strains of Staphylococcus aureus are resistant to penicillin, and many are resistant to methicillin and similar antibiotics, the treatments of choice for S. aureus infections.
  • Up to 100,000 people are hospitalized annually with infections from methicillin-resistant S. aureus.
  • The CDC has issued two case reports of vancomycin-resistant S. aureus. Vancomycin is considered the drug of last resort for many infections.
  • Mortality and hospital length of stay are at least doubled for resistant strains of some organisms compared to susceptible ones.
  • The more often a drug is used, the more likely bacteria are to develop resistance to it.
  • Physicians in the United States and Canada overprescribe antibiotics by 50%.
  • Although antibiotics are useless against viruses, nearly 50% of visits to physicians for colds and upper respiratory tract infections are treated with antibiotics.
  • Half of all antibiotics produced are used to treat sick animals, as growth promoters in livestock, and to rid foodstuffs of destructive organisms.
  • The annual cost of treating antibiotic-resistant infections in United States may be up to $30 billion.