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The rising threat of superbugs

Teresa Tanoos's picture
Superbug infections on the rise, CDC reports.

In response to a report from the CDC about the growing threat of superbugs and the human deaths they can cause, the Obama administration is proposing to increase spending as a preventative measure to combat superbugs.

An estimated $30 million will be sought to fight off infections in hospitals due to germs that are resistant to antibiotics.

Over 23,000 people die in the U.S. each year from infections caused by antibiotic resistant germs, some of which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports are becoming resistant to even the best and strongest antibiotics, including those used only as a last resort.

Accordingly, CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden said Tuesday that the agency is seeking $30 million for a program that will open special labs in five different locations across the U.S. to help local hospitals more rapidly detect and fight antibiotic-resistant infections.

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The specialized laboratories would be equipped with methods that allow for quick mapping of all of a bug’s genes to improve the detection of outbreaks, while helping communities and area hospitals effectively combat infections.

The CDC estimates that if the agency receives funding of $30 million a year over a period of 5 years, the program would not only combat a variety of bacterial threats, but it could also significantly reduce a particularly dangerous threat known as Clostridium difficile (C-diff), cutting its rate by 50 percent to prevent an approximate 20,000 deaths and 168,000 hospitalizations, while also saving more than a billion dollars in health care costs.

In Tuesday’s budget, the CDC separately asked that every hospital set up its own program to help monitor the prescription of antibiotics because, as life-saving as they can be, when someone is over-prescribed too much of an antibiotic, it can result in the bacteria developing resistant to the medication.

1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Making Health Care Safer - Antibiotic Rx in Hospitals: Proceed with Caution, March 4, 2014.
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), CDC Vital Signs: Antibiotic Prescribing Putting Patients at Risk, March 4, 2014.
3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Vital Signs: Improving Antibiotic Use Among Hospitalized Patients, Scott Fridken, M.D., et al, early release published March 4, 2014.


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