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CDC Warns that Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria may Cause a Catastrophe


Pediculus humanus var capitis AKA head louse; ...

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria may cause a catastrophe. This is a warning that came from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Monday, September 16, 2013. What the CDC said was that the nation faces “potentially catastrophic consequences” if it does not quickly act to fight the growing threat of antibiotic-resistant infections. These antibiotic-resistant infections are responsible for the death of an estimated 23,000 Americans each year.

The CDC estimates that over 2 million people in the United States get sick every year from antibiotic-resistant infections, with 23,000 dying from these infections. CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden said that these numbers are “a bare minimum, a very conservative estimate.”

In a 114-page report, the CDC went into detail for the first time concerning the toll that almost 24 antibiotic-resistant microbes are taking on people. The report ranked the threat of each of these bacteria as “urgent,” “serious” or “concerning.” The CDC said if this trend continues, some infections may become essentially untreatable.

People in medical facilities

One drug-resistant family of bacteria that made the urgent list of the CDC is carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE). This infection usually hits people who are in medical facilities. It has become resistant to almost all of the existing antibiotics. CRE is referred to as the “nightmare bacteria.” It can cause life-threatening diarrhea.

To make matters worse, this family of bacteria continues to proliferate (spread rapidly). They have turned up in medical facilities in 44 states. This includes the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, where 7 people died from one kind of CRE in 2011 and 2012.

The CDC said that Neisseria gonorrhoeae, which brings about the sexually transmitted disease gonorrhea, has started to show resistance to the antibiotics that are usually used to treat it. An estimated 800,000 cases of this condition that can result in severe reproductive complications occur annually in the United States.

Urgent list

Clostridium difficile, or C. difficile, infections, also made the urgent list of the CDC. These infections are responsible for around 14,000 deaths in the United States every year. The CDC said that even though resistance to antibiotics that are used to treat C. difficile infections is still not a problem, the agency said that the bacteria proliferates due to the fact that it is naturally resistant to many of the antibiotics that are used to treat other infections.

CDC Director Frieden told reporters in a telephone news conference on Monday, “If we’re not careful, the medicine chest will be empty when we go there to look for a life-saving antibiotic. Without urgent action now, more patients will be thrust back to a time before we had effective drugs.”


The CDC said that the overuse of antibiotics is the strongest factor that is contributing to antibiotic resistance around the world. The more that a particular germ is exposed to an antibiotic, the more quickly it can develop resistance to that antibiotic.

The CDC also said that as many as 50% of all the antibiotics that are prescribed by doctors are either used inappropriately or are not necessary. Officials of the CDC are urging both patients and doctors to think twice before using antibiotics. However, the CDC admitted that this could be difficult to put into practice.
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