The World Health Organization (WHO) issued a list of twelve “Priority Pathogens” that pose a great health risk to mankind. The WHO is asking that researchers focus on development of new antibiotics to fight these bacteria.
In a February 27, 2017, release titled, “WHO publishes list of bacteria for which new antibiotics are urgently needed”, the WHO points out that this list represents a growing concern about the ineffectiveness of antibiotic usage against bacteria that have been evolving and adapting quickly.
Dr Marie-Paule Kieny, WHO’s Assistant Director-General for Health Systems and Innovation stated, “Antibiotic resistance is growing, and we are fast running out of treatment options. If we leave it to market forces alone, the new antibiotics we most urgently need are not going to be developed in time.” In an interview, Dr. Kieny continued, “This list is not meant to scare people about new superbugs. It’s intended to signal research and development priorities to address urgent public health threat.”
Just two days earlier, the Washington Post ran an article titled, “Dangerous antibiotic-resistant infections on the rise for children in the U.S., study finds.” This new study published in the Journal of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society highlighted how big the problem of antibiotic resistance has become. This study found that 3 out of 5 children admitted to hospitals already had an antibiotic-resistant infection.
Dr. Sharon Meropol, the study’s lead author and an assistant professor of pediatrics, epidemiology and biostatistics at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine commented, “Antibiotic resistance increasingly threatens our ability to treat our children’s infections.”
Part of the concern is the over usage of antibiotics not only in human illness, but also in agriculture. Animals are given antibiotics in many cases just as a prevention. The issue is that the bacteria in them become resistant and then find their way to human populations.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, (CDC) for every 1000 people in the US who see a doctor, 842 are given antibiotics. Dr. Theoklis Zaoutis, professor of pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia states that, “About 30 percent of antibiotic use is either inappropriate or unnecessary in the U.S.”
The CDC highlights this growing issue on their website. “Antibiotic resistance is one of the world’s most pressing public health problems. Illnesses that were once easily treatable with antibiotics* are becoming more difficult to cure and more expensive to treat. Infections from common antibiotic-resistant food borne bacteria, such as Salmonella, can cause more severe health outcomes than infections with bacteria that are not resistant to antibiotics.”
The WHO ended their release on this issue with a stern warning that speaks to an overall re-thinking of how we use antibiotics. “While more R&D is vital, alone, it cannot solve the problem. To address resistance, there must also be better prevention of infections and appropriate use of existing antibiotics in humans and animals, as well as rational use of any new antibiotics that are developed in future.”