CDC: Antibiotic-Resistant Infections Kill 23,000 Each Year

Published Online: Monday, October 7, 2013
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A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that each year more than 2 million people in the United States get antibiotic-resistant infections and 23,000 die as a result. The report, released on September 16, 2013, is the first effort by the federal government to quantify the effects of these infections.

The death toll included in the report is lower than previous estimates because the researchers only included deaths in which drug-resistant infection was the definite cause. The report identified inappropriate use of antibiotics, which accounts for up to half of all antibiotic use in the United States, as the most important contributor to the development of antibiotic resistance. Use of antibiotics in animals raised for slaughter also contributes to the problem, the report noted.

The report draws on data from 5 disease-tracking systems and covers infections from 17 drug-resistant bacteria and 1 fungus, which are categorized as urgent, serious, and concerning. Those classified as urgent included carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) and drug-resistant gonorrhea. In addition, the report attributed 11,000 deaths per year to infection with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

The report identifies 4 key actions that should be taken to fight antibiotic resistance: preventing spread of infection, tracking antibiotic-resistant infections, using antibiotics appropriately, and developing new antibiotics to treat resistant infections and tests to track development of resistance.

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