CDC Calls Attention to Bacteria Resistance
Shortly before the partial government shutdown, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a wakeup call – in the form of a report – on the increasingly alarming growth of antibiotic resistance in the United States, with implications for healthcare providers. Threats to public health were grouped according to risk levels: Urgent, Serious, and Concerning. The Urgent or greatest risk category includes a bacterium that has gotten much attention in recent years, Clostridium difficile (C. difficile). CDC emphasizes that C. diff, as it is known, can cause life-threatening diarrhea. The report notes infections “mostly occur in people who have had both recent medical care and antibiotics. Often, C. difficile infections occur in hospitalized or recently hospitalized patients” or nursing home patients, those with a weakened immune system who were exposed to multiple antibiotics or long-term use.
In 2000, a stronger strain of the bacteria emerged, CDC adds. “This strain is resistant to fluoroquinolone antibiotics, which are commonly used to treat other infections.” Deaths related to C. difficile increased 400 percent between 2000 and 2007.
The pathogen is responsible for 250,000 infections per year requiring hospitalization or affecting already hospitalized patients. “In most of these infections, the use of antibiotics was a major contributing factor leading to the illness. At least 14,000 people die each year in the United States from C. difficile infections. Many of these infections could have been prevented.” More than 90 percent of deaths occur in people 65 and older.