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PHR Article of the Week: Antibiotic Resistance: A Public Health Crisis

In the latest issue of Public Health Reports, July/August 2014, acting Surgeon General Dr. Boris Lushniak of the U.S. Public Health Service informs the public on antibiotic resistance, a public health crisis.

Infections with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, particularly respiratory infections, skin and soft tissue infections, and even urinary tract infections, are now prevalent in both the health-care and community settings. This prevalence has led to changes in the approach to empirical treatment, such as with skin infections, due to the high likelihood of methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus causing these infections.

A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) publication estimated that about 2 million people develop infections with antibiotic-resistant pathogens each year; of those who develop infections, an estimated 23,000 people die each year as a direct result of these infections.  The primary driver of antibiotic resistance is the use of antibiotics.

As a result, antibiotics are now a limited resource, there are currently fewer effective antibiotics available for certain health care associated infections than in the previous decade and the threat of antibiotic available resistance is real. However, the impact of antibiotic-resistant infections can be minimized by reducing the prevalence of antibiotic resistance, preventing the occurrence of infections, and improving the therapeutic approach to treating infected patients. The CDC outlines these four core actions that are required to reduce antibiotic-resistant infection: Prevent infections and cross-transmission; track resistant bacteria; improve the use of existing antibiotics; and promote the development of new antibiotic and diagnostic tests.

This week’s PHR feature article, Antibiotic Resistance: A Public Health Crisis, is open access. For full access to current content, visit the Public Health Reports website to subscribe.