CDC releases update of 2013 Antibiotic Resistance Threats Report


“You and I are living in a time when some miracle drugs no longer perform miracles and families are being ripped apart by a microscopic enemy. The time for action is now and we can be part of the solution,” said Robert R. Redfield, MD, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in his foreword to the new CDC report on antibiotic resistance.

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In this update of the previous 2013 report, the CDC details how antibiotic-resistant bacteria and fungi cause more than 2.8 million infections and 35,000 deaths in the United States each year. The current report uses EHRs and other data sources obtained by the CDC for relevant infections extrapolated to develop national disease incidence. The report focuses on “the top 18 pathogens that require attention now,” advises specific steps be taken to address these pathogens, and puts into perspective the future of antibiotic development, their use and abuse, and the continuing threat of antibiotic resistance.

The CDC categorizes these 18 pathogens as either an urgent, serious, or concerning threat.

Urgent Threats

  • Carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter, which cause pneumonia and wound, bloodstream, and urinary tract infections; they tend to affect patients in ICUs. Of particular concern, some Acinetobacter are resistant to nearly all antibiotics, with few new drugs in development (8,500 hospital infections in 2017; 700 deaths).
  • Candida auris, a drug-resistant fungus that was first identified in 2009 in Asia and has quickly become a cause of severe infections around the world; it is extremely difficult to eradicate from health care settings. It began spreading in the United States in 2015, with 323 cases reported in 2018 (90% resistant to at least one antifungal, and 30% resistant to at least two antifungals).
  • Clostridioides difficile, which can cause life-threatening diarrhea, most often in people who have taken antibiotics for other conditions. It is the most common health care–associated infection, and although decreasing in the health care system, it has not decreased in community settings (223,900 hospital infections in 2017, and 12,800 estimated deaths).
  • Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, which most frequently infect patients who require devices such as catheters and those taking long courses of some antibiotics. Of particular concern is the fact that these bacteria contain a transmissible plasmid that can transfer their drug resistance to other pathogens (13,100 hospital infections in 2017, and 1,100 estimated deaths).
  • Drug-resistant Neisseria gonorrhoeae, which is a sexually transmitted disease that can result in life-threatening ectopic pregnancy, lead to infertility, and can increase the risk of getting and giving HIV; it can also cause cardiovascular and neurological problems. It is resistant to all but one class of antibiotics, and half of all infections are resistant to at least one antibiotic (550,000 drug-resistant infections yearly).

Serious Threats

  • Drug-resistant Campylobacter.
  • Drug-resistant Candida.
  • Extended spectrum beta-lactamase–producing Enterobacteriaceae.
  • Vancomycin-resistant Enterococci.
  • Multidrug-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
  • Drug-resistant nontyphoidal Salmonella.
  • Drug-resistant Salmonella serotype Typhi.
  • Drug-resistant Shigella.
  • Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
  • Drug-resistant Streptococcus pneumoniae.
  • Drug-resistant Tuberculosis.

Concerning Threats

These comprise erythromycin-resistant group A Streptococcus and clindamycin-resistant group B Streptococcus.

In addition, the CDC has established a Watch List of three pathogens to be wary of: azole-resistant Aspergillus fumigatus, drug-resistant Mycoplasma genitalium, and drug-resistant Bordetella pertussis.

Because antibiotic resistance is a global phenomenon caused by and affecting everyone, the CDC provided solutions to the problem of antibiotic resistance at every level of society. This “comprehensive and coordinated response implements the U.S. National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria” and includes cooperation with the Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Defense, Department of State, and Department of Agriculture, according to the report.

The key components of this response include using data and new technologies to detect and track antibiotic resistance; infection prevention and containment, especially in terms of outbreak response; improving antibiotic use across populations (one successful example being a 16% decrease of outpatient antibiotic prescribing to children during 2011-2017); improvements in the identification and intervention in the environment including water and soil and in sanitation; and a significant investment in vaccines, diagnostics, and novel therapeutics (the CDC provided nearly $110 million to 96 institutions for work in these areas).

The report also details some hope in the development of new antibiotics. As of June 2019, there were 42 new antibiotics in development, including 4 with new drug applications submitted, 17 with the potential to treat serious gram negative bacteria, and 11 that could address the urgent threats of gonorrhea or C. difficile. Overall, a quarter of these new antibiotics represent a novel drug class or use a novel mechanism of action.

Furthermore, 84% of U.S. hospitals report a stewardship program meeting all seven of CDC’s Core Elements of Hospital Antibiotic Stewardship. Proper stewardship is at the core of preventing the development of new antibiotic resistant pathogen strains.

In addition, the CDC noted a 5% overall decline in antibiotic prescribing in outpatient settings during 2011-2016.

“The problem will get worse if we do not act now, but we can make a difference,” according to Dr. Redfield. “Simply, here’s what works. Preventing infections protects everyone. Improving antibiotic use in people and animals slows the threat and helps preserve today’s drugs and those yet to come. Detecting threats and implementing interventions to keep germs from becoming widespread saves lives.”

In response to the release of the report, the AMA issued a supporting statement and cited its collection of educational resources for physicians focused on antibiotic use, resistance, and stewardship.

Similarly, the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) stated that hospitals were “a bright spot” in the CDC report and offered tools and resources available to educate and inform health care professionals about best practices in infection prevention and control, as well as antibiotic stewardship.

SOURCE: CDC. Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States 2019.

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