The Center for Disease control (CDC) is treating superbugs as domestic terrorists and has developed a new threat level response. Instead of yellow, orange and red, however; the CDC has developed “urgent,” “serious” and “concerning.”
The CDC blames the spread of the new breed of superbugs on antibiotic resistant infections due to the over prescription of antibiotics. Current statistics reflect that more than 2 million people get antibiotic-resistant infections each year with approximate 23,000 deaths annually and the CDC has ranked the worst culprits based on rate of hospitalizations and death.
Drug-resistant ‘superbugs’ include CRE bacteria, C-Diff and Neisseria gonorrhoeae.
The Missouri Department of Health explains it this way: “Every time a person takes antibiotics, sensitive bacteria are killed, but resistant germs may be left to grow and multiply. Repeated and improper uses of antibiotics are primary causes of the increase in drug-resistant bacteria.”
CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden said on Monday that the CDC is warning the public about these health threats before they get out of control.
“For the first time,” said Frieden, ” we have a snapshot of antimicrobial threats that have the most impact on human health.”
According to the CDC, the following bacteria are the most “Urgent Threats”:
CRE bacteria — a family of germs called carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, which includes E. Coli. Some CRE bacteria are resistant to all existing antibiotics. The CDC reports more than 9,000 infections are contracted in hospitals and other health care settings from these bacteria. As many as 50% of the patients who are infected with CRE end up dying because there is nothing to help them fight the infections.
Clostridium Difficile (C-Diff for short) — a bacteria that can cause life-threatening diarrhea. It kills up to 14,000 people and causes a quarter million hospitalizations each year. Most patients who get this potentially deadly infection are on antibiotics for other infections. The problem is that while antibiotics kill bad bugs, they also kill good bacteria in your gastrointestinal system that help fight off bad bacteria, C-Diff included.
Neisseria gonorrhoeae — the drug-resistant form of this bacteria causes gonorrhea, the second most commonly reported infection in the United States. Gonorrhea can cause a variety of illnesses in men and women, including infertility. The CDC estimates there are 820,000 infections each year. In nearly a third of the cases, treatment of the sexually-transmitted disease, is hampered by growing antibiotic resistance.
Frieden said if the current trends continue, “the medicine cabinet may be empty for patients who need them in the coming months and years.”
In order to stem the tide of a “post-antibiotic” era, where none of the existing drugs work anymore and new ones haven’t been approved, the CDC has created a four-step plan.