More than 2 million Americans develop antibiotic-resistant infections each year and about 23,000 die as a result, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Government health officials fear those numbers, which are conservative estimates, could worsen as overuse and misuse of antibiotics cause more bacteria to develop resistance to the drugs. Without a major effort to preserve the current supply of antibiotics and to develop new ones, they say future generations will be ill-equipped to fight off the deadly superbugs.
“If we’re not careful, the medicine chest will be empty when we go there to look for a lifesaving antibiotic for someone with a deadly infection,” said Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC. “But if we act now, we can preserve these medications while we continue to work on development of new medications.”
The new report, “Antibiotic Threats in the United States, 2013,” is the first comprehensive analysis of the nation’s 18 most serious drug-resistant bacterial threats. The CDC, for the first time, has categorized the bacteria and the threat they pose as “urgent,” “serious” and “concerning.”