On September 16, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report entitled “Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States, 2013” with the purpose of increasing awareness of the threat posed by antibiotic resistance and encouraging immediate action to face this threat. The CDC estimates that more than two million people become ill every year with antibiotic-resistant infections, with at least 23,000 cases resulting in death.
This report ranked each threat as “urgent,” “serious,” or “concerning” based on seven factors: clinical impact, economic impact, incidence, 10-year projection of incidence, transmissibility, availability of effective antibiotics, and barriers to prevention.
The most “urgent” threats, as ranked by the CDC, occur from antibiotic-resistant infections that have emerged from heavy antibiotic use in hospitals. The “serious” category included several bacteria that are resistance to drugs that are used widely on farms, as well as in hospitals. These include salmonella and Campylobacter. The report notes that the majority of drug-resistant infections occur in hospital and other healthcare settings.
The CDC identified antibiotic use as the most important factor in increasing antibiotic resistance. Antibiotics are the most commonly prescribed drugs in human medicine, although up to 50% of the drugs prescribed are not needed or are not optimally effective, according to the report. Antibiotics are also commonly used in food animals to prevent, control, and treat disease, and to promote growth. The report suggests that these drugs should only be used to treat infections so as not to perpetuate antibiotic resistance. The CDC also identified the spread of resistant strains of bacteria from person to person, or from non-human sources in the environment, including food, as a major factor in the growth of antibiotic resistance.
Also, the CDC identified four core actions that can be taken to fight the spread of antibiotic resistance: 1) preventing infections from occurring and preventing resistant bacteria from spreading, 2) tracking resistant bacteria, 3) improving the use of antibiotics, and 4) promoting the development of new antibiotics and new diagnostic tests for resistant bacteria.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is a federal agency under the Department of Health and Human Services. The mission of the agency is to protect America from health, safety and security threats and increase the health security of our nation.
The full text of this report can be found on the CDC website. For more information on the CDC, please visit their webpage.
Written by Alyssa Looney – Research Assistant
The Agricultural Law Resource and Reference Center
September 18, 2013