WHO report: Antibiotic resistance on the rise across the globe

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria now reach every part of the world, which could mean more deaths from even minor infections in the future, according to a new World Health Organization (WHO) report.

The WHO, it its first global report on antimicrobial resistance, examined seven common bacteria that cause serious infections and found high levels of resistance all over the world and significant gaps in tracking drug resistance, according to an informational graphic on the report.

Rates of resistance to antibiotics are high for both Enterobacteriaceae (E. Coli) and Klebsiella pneumoniae, which can cause hospital-acquired infections like pneumonia, bloodstream infections and more, the report, "Antimicrobial resistance: global report on surveillance," found. Carbapenem, the drug used to treat the latter, only works in about half the people treated. Antibiotic resistance means people are sick longer and have an increased risk of death, driving up the cost of healthcare with longer stays and more required care, according to the report.

Deadly fungal infections are also on the rise. Five children died at Children's Hospital in New Orleans between 2008 and 2009 during an outbreak of mucormycosis, a flesh-eating fungal infection spread by contaminated linens, the New York Times reported.

The industry created no new major types of antibiotics in the last 30 years, which could have drastic consequences in the future. "Without urgent, coordinated action by many stakeholders, the world is headed for a post-antibiotic era, in which common infections and minor injuries which have been treatable for decades can once again kill," Keiji Fukuda, M.D., the WHO's assistant director-general for health security, said in an announcement.

To address antibiotic resistance, healthcare leaders must ensure their employees and staff:

  • Enhance infection prevention and control at hospitals

  • Prescribe and dispense antibiotics only when truly needed

  • Prescribe the correct antibiotics to treat illness

To learn more:
- here's the report
- check out the infographic
- read the announcement
- here's the New York Times article