Drug-resistant germs and related infections sicken about 3 million people and kill about 48,000 every year in the United States, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The new estimates show that previous figures missed about half of the illnesses and deaths.
Five germs account for the most urgent threats. Three are long-recognized dangers: Clostridioides difficile (C. diff.), drug-resistant gonorrhea, and carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae (CRE), also known as “nightmare bacteria” because they pose a triple threat. They are resistant to all or nearly all antibiotics; they kill up to half of patients who get bloodstream infections from them; and the bacteria can transfer their antibiotic resistance to other related bacteria, potentially making the other bacteria untreatable.
Two new ones were added to the urgent category since the CDC’s first report in 2013: a deadly superbug yeast that has alarmed health officials around the world; and a family of bacteria that has developed resistance to nearly all antibiotics.
Overuse of antibiotics is a likely reason for the dramatic rise in resistant infections, the report said. Nearly a third of antibiotics prescribed in doctors’ offices, emergency rooms and hospital-based clinics in the United States are not needed.
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