Now Viewing: Antibiotic resistance

CRE Bacteria: The Next Superbug Threat in Your Hospital

Apr 2, 2013, 8:30 AM, Posted by Brian C. Quinn

Klebsiella pneumoniae bacteria illustration Klebsiella pneumoniae bacteria illustration courtesy of the CDC

“Bacteria are becoming resistant to antibiotics faster than we can stop them. This problem is now a public health crisis: Infections caused by drug-resistant bacteria contribute to more than 99,000 deaths per year in the U.S. alone – more than AIDS, traffic accidents, and the flu combined.

At RWJF, we believe today’s health care problems demand innovative solutions. Pioneer grantee Extending the Cure takes a unique approach, looking at this public health problem through an economic lens. They propose comprehensive, incentive-based solutions, such as creating incentives to discourage unnecessary antibiotic use and encourage the development of new drug therapies. ETC also recognizes that while we can't beat the bacteria, we can slow them down if we start to view antibiotics differently. Just like water or trees, we must treat these drugs as a natural resource that can be depleted with overuse.

We all have a role to play in making sure antibiotics are around when we need them. In this post on KevinMD, Dr. Daniel J. Morgan tells us what it’s like to face superbugs in the health care system and points out the critical role that hospitals can, and should, play in the effort to stop them.”  — Brian C. Quinn

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Got the Flu? Antibiotics Won’t Help (So Please Don’t Ask for Them)

Jan 28, 2013, 12:09 PM, Posted by Beth Toner

Beth Toner Beth Toner

One look at the latest flu map from the Centers for Disease Control tells you everything you need to know: We are smack-dab in the middle of flu season. Make no mistake: Influenza, at best, can make you miserable—and, at worst, kill you. If you are one of the many Americans suffering from the flu this season, you will probably try anything to get relief from your sore throat, high fever, body aches, and chills. But do us a favor: Please don’t ask your doctor for an antibiotic. There are medications—called antivirals—that may decrease your symptoms and shorten your illness by a day or two. Antibiotics, however, won’t help you if you have the flu. 

Antibiotics don’t fight infections that are caused by viruses, including influenza. Yet every year flu sufferers are prescribed antibiotics. According to a policy brief from Extending the Cure (ETC), a project funded by the Pioneer team, that researches and examines solutions to address antibiotic resistance, between 500,000 and 1 million antibiotic prescriptions are filled each flu season for patients who have the flu and no bacterial illness.

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Protecting a Valuable Natural Resource: Antibiotics

Nov 15, 2012, 4:15 PM, Posted by Ramanan Laxminarayan

Ramanan Laxminarayan Ramanan Laxminarayan

Antibiotics are a shared resource for protecting the public’s health. Since their introduction in 1941, antibiotics have saved millions of lives and transformed modern medicine. But the more you or I—or anyone—uses antibiotics when we don’t need them, the more we contribute to the development of antibiotic-resistant microbes—and to the frightening prospect of a world where most infections don’t respond to antibiotics. If we don’t take collective action soon, this unthinkable scenario could become a reality.

To many who have heard these warnings before, antibiotic resistance seems like an evergreen issue that is always off in the distance. That is simply no longer true. We lose more people to just one kind of drug-resistant infection—methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus—than to HIV. The cumulative toll from all resistant infections in the United States is much greater. Each and every one of us has a responsibility to protect the arsenal that we have—those antibiotics that are still effective—to fight deadly pathogens.

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C. diff Infections: Worse Than We Thought

Aug 21, 2012, 1:20 PM, Posted by Ramanan Laxminarayan

Ramanan Laxminarayan Ramanan Laxminarayan

Infections caused by the dangerous microbe Clostridium difficile, or C. diff, are much more prevalent in hospitals and health care facilities than previously reported, according to an investigative front page story in last week’s USA Today. This bug is most often seen in hospitals, nursing homes, and other medical facilities. It causes severe diarrhea and intestinal problems that can worsen and even be fatal. The story cites a scientist from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who says annual fatalities may be as high as 30,000 per year, more than twice as high as some recent estimates.

The article accurately points to many reasons for this problem. Many hospital infection control programs aren’t stringent enough and C. diff reporting rates are poor. Hospitals need to be more prudent in their antibiotic use. C. diff thrives when healthy bacteria usually present in the intestines are wiped out by certain antibiotics patients take. In the absence of these healthy bacteria, C. diff can take over.

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Flu Season Dangers: Spikes in Antibiotic Resistance

Aug 7, 2012, 4:45 PM, Posted by Pioneer Blog Team

An op-ed published Monday in Modern Healthcare describes how the overuse of antibiotics during flu season makes the growing problem of antibiotic resistance worse, even in the short-term.  This research--from a new study last month in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases--found that spikes in prescription sales for two popular groups of antibiotics during flu season led to a rapid increase, one month later, in resistant Escherichia coli (E. coli) in hospitals. It also found a rise in methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureas (MRSA) linked to increases in prescriptions of other antibiotics.  

The research was conducted by Extending the Cure, a project funded by the Pioneer Portfolio that researches and examines solutions to address antibiotic resistance.

It is well-known that exposure to antibiotics leads disease-causing microbes to become resistant to these powerful drugs.  This study showing seasonal fluctuations in resistance adds a new urgency to public health efforts to combat the problem of resistance.

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