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A Deadly New Health Threat: Antibiotic Resistant Superbug!

The last decade has seen the rise of antibiotic-resistant super bacteria. The scariest news was the report by Army scientists in 2016 about identifying a new form of E. coli that harbors a gene (called MCR-1) that renders medicines' last resort antibiotic, Colistin, useless. The first two confirmed cases were in New York and Pennsylvania. In my practice, we are identifying more and more urinary tract infections that are caused by forms of E. coli, enterococcus, streptococcus, and staphylococcus that are resistant to all oral antibiotics. More alarming is the fact that the pharmaceutical industry has not produced any new antibiotics in several years. The overuse of antibiotics has contributed to the rapid rise in bacterial resistance.

The CDC released its 2019 Antibiotic Resistance Threat analysis which summarizes the latest national death and infection estimates highlighting the continued threat of antibiotic resistance in the U.S. More than 2.8 million antibiotic-resistant infections occur in the U.S. annually, and more than 35,000 people die from these infections. Additionally, over 223,000 cases of Clostridioides difficile were diagnosed in 2017, resulting in 12,800 deaths. C. Diff is an infection of the gut that occurs in patients who have been over-treated with antibiotics resulting in the death of the normal, protective bacteria of the bowels. This results in the overgrowth of C. difficile, resulting in a potentially life-threatening infection of the gut-associated with severe diarrhea.

The CDC is highly concerned about these emerging infections, which are putting more people at risk making their spread more challenging to identify and contain.

The most urgent threats are:
  • Carbapenem-resistant Acinetoacter

  • Candida auris

  • Clostridioides difficile

  • Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacter

  • Drug-resistant Gonorrhea

It is very important that individual not self-treat by taking another person’s antibiotic medication, which is often times not the appropriate treatment for a particular infection or the proper does. The most common scenario is taking antibiotics for what is a viral sinus or upper respiratory infection. Excessive exposure of your normally present bacteria to antibiotics, breeds bacterial resistance. The over use of antibiotics in the hospital setting has also led to the rapid rise of “super bugs” in hospitals. The over use of antibiotics in the food chain is also accelerating and promoting bacterial resistance.

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