Antibiotic Resistance Mapping: 2.0

Sep 26, 2011, 7:30 PM, Posted by

Extending the Cure, a research and consulting project focused on antibiotic resistance, has released the second edition of their antibiotic resistance map, an interactive online web tool that tracks drug resistance in North America and Europe. The online tool was recently redesigned and now lets researchers and policymakers, for the first time, make interactive side-by-side comparisons of the latest resistance data from the United States, Canada and Europe. Users can also embed the interactive data on their blog or website.

The new tool includes successes and concerning trends in infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance. For example, the U.S. has made significant gains in limiting the spread of hospital-acquired Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), but still has one of the highest MRSA rates in the Northern Hemisphere, far behind some developed European countries.

“By mapping the geography of resistance, we can better identify regions at risk for outbreaks,” says Ramanan Laxminarayan, Ph.D., director of Extending the Cure. “In addition, this map allows us to look for solutions and pinpoint regions of the world where infection control practices have been particularly successful," says Laxminarayan.

Other trends of note:

  • The U.S. and Ireland have the highest reported rate of the lethal and resistant microbe Vancomycin-resistant enterococcus (VRE). (VRE infections are often passed between hospital patients when health care workers fail to follow standard hygiene steps, such as hand-washing.)
  • Over 20 percent of infections caused by VRE bacteria in the United States are resistant to vancomycin, a drug of last resort, according to Extending the Cure, compared to less than 5 percent in Canada and most of Western Europe.
  • Two of the most common disease-causing bacteria – E. coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae – are rapidly gaining resistance to common antibiotics such as ciprofloxacin, or cipro.
  • The South as a region had higher rates of resistance compared to the West or Northeastern United States.

The resistance map project was developed in part by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Pioneer Portfolio, which supports projects with the potential to transform health and health care.

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF New Public Health blog.