The Number of Superbugs is Growing, and the Threat with It

Bacteria, illustration

Five years ago the Centers for Disease Control identified three super bugs that are highly resistant to antibiotics. Last week, in a report titled, “The Threat of Antibiotic Resistance” they identified two more.

In an interview with CNN NIH Infectious Disease Director Dr. Anthony Fauci calls it a threat of our own making. “It is. For the most part it’s manmade. We are the problem. We have seen the enemy and it is us.”

The first true antibiotic was penicillin, discovered in London by Dr. Alexander Fleming in 1928. Since then, antibiotics have become a panacea used to treat everything, including illnesses that aren’t bacterial in nature.

In the recent past, most reported cases of super-bug infections have come from hospitals, but the CDC’s Dr. Michael Craig says that’s not the case anymore. “You can pick something up just about anywhere. It literally has to potential to affect every person on the planet.” He’s in charge of the task force studying the problem, and says we need better diagnostics, newer vaccines, and fresher antibiotics. “When we get sick we want to make sure the medicine we take works. Antibiotic resistance ultimately is a phenomenon where our best medicines don’t work.”

One person now dies from a super-bug infection every 15 minutes. That’s twice the rate than was previously believed.

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