Extending the Cure Launches Interactive Map Featuring Latest Regional and Global Trends in Antibiotic Resistance

Sep 29, 2011, 10:30 AM

The latest iteration of ResistanceMap, an interactive web-based tool that tracks drug resistance in North America and Europe, was launched recently by Extending the Cure, a Pioneer-supported research project that explores policy solutions to the growing threat of antibiotic resistance. (ETC director Ramanan Laxminarayan sums up the initiative’s approach wonderfully in a recent article in The Atlantic .)

 The United States lags behind many Western European nations in controlling the spread of certain drug-resistant microbes or “superbugs,” according to ResistanceMap. The online tool was recently updated to allow users to make side-by-side comparisons of resistance data.

 The maps show that despite significant gains in limiting the spread of hospital acquired Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), the United States still has one of the highest MRSA rates in the Northern Hemisphere—putting it far behind other developed European countries. Nearly 52 percent of reported Staph samples in the United States are resistant to treatment with methicillin, penicillin and closely related antibiotics, compared to just 1 percent in Sweden.

 Policymakers, researchers and healthcare workers can use maps like these to identify regions in the country or the world that might need greater coordination and tighter infection control. The information in the maps will also be useful in finding models of best practice that could be used to curtail the spread of an emerging superbug, an increasingly urgent need in a world where resistant bacteria can easily and quickly travel from one part of the globe to another.

Several high-profile media outletscovered the launch, including: The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and Scientific American.

Check out the map and let us know what you think – what are some trends that jump out at you and how can we re-imagine the way we deal with the issue of antibiotic resistance?

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF Pioneering Ideas blog.