Since antibiotics are a primary treatment against bacteria, it is a serious threat to global health when bacteria strains become antibiotic-resistant. This resistance occurs because antibiotics are overused, thus resulting in resistant strains of what would have been treatable bacteria. The CDC released a 2013 report with the most comprehensive research to date on the deadly impact of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and our infographic outlines some major points below.
Over 2 million Americans fall ill from antibiotic-resistant bacteria every year.
Over 23,000 will die from these infections.
$35 billion additional annual costs attributed to lost productivity.
$20 billion excess direct healthcare costs attributed to antibiotic resistance in the US on an annual basis.
Top Causes of Antibiotic Resistance
The number one cause of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is the overuse of antibiotics of humans. CDC says that people are “the single most important factor leading to antibiotic resistance around the world.” Up to 50% of all prescribed antibiotics are unnecessary or are not prescribed in an optimally effective way. Almost 1 in 5 emergency visits for negative drug cases can be attributed to antibiotics.
The second major contributing factor to the rise in antibiotic resistance is the use of antibiotics in food-producing animals. The antibiotics are used to increase animal growth and prevent or treat disease. The CDC report posits that this is unnecessary and should not continue.
Besides primary causes, another reason for the rise of resistance is that already resistant strains spread. They spread from person to person and from non-humans into food (for example, cow’s milk) or the environment.
There are ways to prevent antibiotic resistance. Preventing the resistant-virus spread and tracking such bacteria are strong options. Also, the development of new antibiotics and creating diagnostic tests for resistant bacteria can help maintain the effectiveness of antibiotics as a health benefit.