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Surge in drug resistant bacteria growing public threat

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

Researchers from Washington DC recently analyzed the increase in drug resistance, finding a growing public health threat that the scientists say must be addressed by pharmaceutical companies. The scientists analyzed data from 300 hospitals around the country that showed the bacteria Acinetobacter has become increasingly more resistant to the powerful antibiotic imipenem, marketed under the brand name Primaxin.

Acinetobacter is an infection found in hospitals in intensive care units causing pneumonia and sepsis (infection in the bloodstream). The bacteria is difficult to treat and at times unresponsive to any antibiotic. It has also been noted that soldiers returning from Iraq have been infected with Acinetobacter causing severe pneumonia and bloodstream infection.

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According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, “Multidrug-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii has been reported worldwide and is now recognized as one of the most difficult healthcare-associated infections to control and treat.” Additionally, “The organism can survive for months on clothing and bedclothes, bed rails, ventilators and other surfaces in the environment, including sinks and doorknobs, making nosocomial transmission extremely difficult to control.”

Researchers have seen a 300 percent increase between 1999 and 2006 in antibiotic resistance from Acinetobacter, raising concerns from the researchers that …”this bacteria is becoming resistant to nearly everything in our arsenal."

Ramanan Laxminarayan, principal investigator of Extending the Cure, a project examining antibiotic resistance at the Washington, D.C. based think-tank Resources for the Future, says "There is a lot of attention on MRSA, but less on infections caused by bacteria like Acinetobacter for which there are fewer drugs in the development pipeline. While all drug resistance is of concern, it is particularly worrying in the case of bugs for which we have few treatment options."

Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology