Tag Archives: antibiotic resistance

Another brewing infectious disease threat and looking to COVID-19 for solutions

The threat of antibiotic resistance continues to grow in 2022. Reporters looking for new angles on how to cover this brewing danger can look to efforts by public health advocates, drug company leaders and federal legislators, who are pushing for federal policies that encourage the development of new antibiotics. Their efforts come as two recent reports demonstrate that another potential global infectious disease crisis is percolating.

One January 2022 report  concluded that 1.2 million deaths globally were the result of drug resistance in 2019 — higher than previously understood. Another showed that the pipeline of new antibiotics to replace those that no longer work remains dangerously thin and likely won’t expand unless the federal government steps in like it did during COVID-19 with vaccines.

“Among the many sobering reminders of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the critical importance of public health preparedness,” Kathy Talkington, director of health programs at Pew Charitable Trusts, wrote in a Feb. 3 letter to a U.S. Senate committee in support of legislation to spur the development of new antibiotics. “While we were not aware of COVID-19 before its emergence, experts have been warning for decades about the threat of antibiotic resistance … Yet, their value to health care has been taken for granted; all the while, their effectiveness gradually diminishes.”

The CDC estimated in 2019 that about 35,000 people a year in the U.S. die from a drug-resistant infection, which is up from 2013 when the agency estimated about 21,000 were dying annually from a superbug. This is the latest national data available from the CDC.

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Super bug threat potential rising with COVID-19

Photo: Naoki Takano via Flickr

If you are looking for an undercovered story during this pandemic, take a look at the continued threat of antibiotic-resistant pathogens.

There isn’t a lot of data out there, but scientists are watching for signs that COVID-19 patients are being overtreated with antibiotics, which could lead to a surge in super bugs – the term for bacteria and fungus that are resistant to most, if not all, antibiotics.

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Dentists urged to reduce prescriptions of pre-treatment antibiotics

Clostridioides difficile

Across America, dentists write about 10% of all antibiotic prescriptions, data show, making them the top specialty prescribers of antibiotics in the U.S. one recent year.

But do the benefits of all these prescriptions outweigh their potential for harm? Amid concerns about antibiotic resistance – and the spread of Clostridioides difficile, a bacterium that causes antibiotic-associated colitis – researchers are saying “no.” Continue reading

How a journalist overcame challenges of covering antibiotic resistance

Since the dawn of antibiotics, there has been antibiotic resistance. Until about 20 years ago, this threat remained muted because there were plenty of new antibiotics in the pipeline to replace those that had stopped working.

Today, there are fewer than 50 antimicrobials in the pipeline, according to Pew Charitable Trusts. Resistant bacteria, meanwhile, are slowly but surely spreading across the planet. If nothing changes, British think tank the Wellcome Trust, estimates that 10 million people will die annually from a resistant microbe by 2050. Continue reading

Persistent threats to U.S. children’s health the focus of #AHCJ19 session

Ali H. Mokdad

While measles may be the hot topic in the news at the moment for children’s health, it’s far from the only concern. Even as the historical success of vaccines has reduced child mortality and morbidity from infectious disease, chronic disease, assault and injuries have increasingly become killers of U.S. children.

These were among the issues Ali H. Mokdad, Ph.D., a professor of global health at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington in Seattle, discussed during his session at Health Journalism 2019, “From measles to obesity: Key health trends affecting children and adolescents.” Continue reading