Antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea, a diarrhea-causing superbug and a class of fast-growing killer bacteria dubbed a "nightmare" were classified as urgent public-health threats in the United States on Monday.
According to a new report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at least 2 million people in the United States develop serious bacterial infections that are resistant to one or more types of antibiotics each year, and at least 23,000 die from the infections.
"For organism after organism, we're seeing this steady increase in resistance rates," Dr Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC, said in a telephone interview.
"We don't have new drugs about to come out of the pipeline. If and when we get new drugs, unless we do a better job of protecting them, we'll lose those, also."
Overprescribing of antibiotics is a chief cause of antibiotic resistance, affording pathogens the opportunity to outwit the drugs used to treat them. Only a handful of new antibiotics have been developed and brought to market in the past few decades, and only a few companies are working on drugs to replace them.
In addition to resistant gonorrhea, the others now seen as urgent threats, according to the first-of-its-kind report released on Monday, are C. difficile and the killer class known as carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or CRE.
The report was conceived to bring together as much information as possible about drug-resistant superbugs and how to slow their spread, with a hope of preserving the remaining drugs that still work, Frieden said.
The United States is not alone in raising the alarm over antibiotic drug resistance.
NEW YORK – Federal transportation officials issued an emergency order Friday for Metro-North Railroad to immediately put extra operators on lines that have major speed changes, including the one where a speeding commuter train derailed this week, killing four people.
The Federal Railroad Administration order was a reaction to Sunday's wreck, where a commuter train flew off the tracks after hitting a sharp curve at 82 mph, nearly three times the 30-mph speed limit. The lone train operator told investigators he nodded at the controls and didn't apply the brakes until it was too late.