What are drug-resistant infections? (2023)

questions and answers

Our collective overuse of antibiotics is causing one of the most pressing global health problems. In this question and answer session, we explain what drug-resistant infections are, who they affect, and what we can do to stop the rise and spread of drug-resistant infections.

What are drug-resistant infections? (1)

9 minute reading time

  • infectious disease
  • drug resistant infections

9 minute reading time

What are drug resistant infections?

Infections become resistant to drugs when the microbes that cause them adapt and change over time, developing the ability to resist drugs designed to kill them. One of the most common types of drug resistance is antibiotic resistance. Bacteria, not humans or animals, become resistant to antibiotics. These bacteria are sometimes called "superbacterias'.

The result is that many drugs, such as antibiotics, are becoming less effective in treating disease. Our overuse of antibiotics in humans, animals, and plants accelerates this process.

Without effective antibiotics, routine surgeries like hip replacement surgery, common illnesses like diarrhea, and minor accidental injuries, even lacerations, can turn fatal.

Why are drug-resistant infections dangerous?

Medications such as antibiotics are an important tool in modern medicine used to prevent and treat infections. As drug-resistant infections become more common, modern medicine as we know it is at risk.

Without effective antibiotics, common infections that used to be easily treatable, such astravelerand urinary tract infections: are intractable or require prolonged hospital stays.

Routine medical procedures like chemotherapy, organ transplants, and other surgeries are becoming less safe due to the risk of infection.

Childbirth also becomes riskier because, without effective antibiotics, it is more difficult to control birth-related infections. That's gooda big problem in countries like India, Pakistan and Nigeria, where thousands of newborns die each year from antibiotic-resistant sepsis. Researchers appreciate itOne in five people who died from drug resistance in 2019 were under the age of five.

Other drugs are at risk of becoming less effective due to resistance, including antifungals, antivirals, and antimalarials. This complicates the treatment of fungal infections, HIV or malaria, for example.

Who is affected by drug resistant infections?

Drug-resistant infections can affect anyone, anywhere. We are all at risk of infection from drug-resistant bacteria.

Researchers appreciate itMore than 1.2 million people died in 2019 from infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria. That represents an average of about 3,500 people a day in more than 200 countries and territories.

In some countries like India, tuberculosis (TB) remains the most dangerous infectious disease. World,by 10.6 million peopleWith the disease in 2020-21, more than half a million cases were caused by drug-resistant tuberculosis. This poses new risks, especially for children who are much more susceptible to the disease.

Understanding the health burden of drug-resistant infections is challenging due to the lack of data and standardized surveillance in different regions and countries. Many more people may be affected than we think.

How does drug resistance arise?

Like all living things, microbes evolve over time in response to their environment. Antibiotic resistance is an example of this development, which occurs when bacteria change in such a way that antibiotic substances become harmless to them.

They do it in many ways. Some bacteria can "neutralize" the antibiotic before it does any harm. Others have learned to rapidly pump the antibiotic out of their cells. And others can change their external structure so that the antibiotic does not attach to the bacteria and kill it.

Resistant bacteria survive and multiply. If transmitted to other people, animals, or the environment, resistant infections can spread rapidly.

For example,It only took five years for an antibiotic-resistant strain of K. pneumoniae to spread across the globe.from the US, where it was first found in 2003, to Israel in 2005, and then to Italy, Colombia, the UK and Sweden in 2008.

Why are we seeing more drug-resistant infections?

Drug resistance is a natural phenomenon, but its recent growth is largely due to human activity.

Our collective overuse of antibiotics in humans, animals, and plants is accelerating the development and spread of drug-resistant infections. Unnecessary exposure of bacteria to drugs creates more opportunities for the development and spread of drug resistance.

world is theAccording to estimates from the World Health Organization, only half of the antibioticsused correctly.

Antibiotics are widely used as growth promoters, prophylactic and therapeutic treatments in animal husbandry, fish farming and plant cultivation. In some countries they believe thatThe animal sector accounts for 80% of all antibiotic consumption, mainly to accelerate growth in healthy animals.

Antibiotics are also often misused in human medicine. In150 million antibiotic prescriptionswritten by doctors in the United States each year, 50 million were not needed. In OECD countries50% Antibioticsantibiotics prescribed by GPs are considered misused: they are not needed or the wrong antibiotic has been prescribed.

In some countries, regulations on the use of antibiotics are poorly enforced or do not exist. People can buy antibiotics without a prescription to treat viral infections instead of bacterial ones.

Despite the urgent need to reduce the inappropriate use of antibiotics, more lives are being lost due to lack of access to life-saving antibiotics. Global,Nearly 6 million people die each year from treatable infectious diseases..

The proper use of antibiotics, and making them available and affordable where they are needed, is important to improving health around the world, now and in the future.

When do drug-resistant infections become a problem?

Drug-resistant infections are already a problem.

1.2 million people died in 2019 from infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria.If we don't act now, that number is expected to rise to 10 million by 2050. That means worldwidemore people will die from drug-resistant infections than from cancer. Drug-resistant infections will cause six times as many deaths as diarrhoea, measles and cholera combined.

All countries are, and increasingly, affected. However, the greatest health burden will be in low- and middle-income countries, where health systems are not as strong.

Drug-resistant infections can also have broader impacts on livelihoods.Resistant infections can place an additional burden on vulnerable people living in poverty. And the spread of resistant infections in cattle can affect the availability of meat and dairy products.

Are drug-resistant infections a global problem?

Yes. In an era of increased mobility and globalization, microbes cannot be contained within national borders and spread between humans, animals, and through environmental channels such as water or soil.

Drug resistance is widespread throughout the world. 2019,Almost one in five bacterial infections in OECD countries was resistant to antibiotics.In low- and middle-income countries, resistance is even greater. for example inIn India, Brazil and the Russian Federation, 40-60% of infections are resistant.

Genes associated with drug-resistant bacteria haveFound in the Arctic CirclemiAntarctica, some of the most remote places on Earth.

Drug-resistant infections are a threat to global economies and healthcare systems. The World Bank forecasts global gross domestic product - the total value of goods and services in one year -could drop as much as $3.4 trillion by 2050 as a direct result of drug-resistant infections.

Can we stop drug-resistant infections?

We can't completely prevent drug-resistant infections, but if we act now, we can slow them down.

Drug resistance is a natural evolutionary process.Antibiotic resistance has been reported.even before the first clinical use of penicillin in the 1940s. Since then, resistance to all classes of antibiotics has been discovered.

While we can't stop them, we can control the rate at which resistance develops and spreads, for example by making better use of existing antibiotics and developing new ones.

How can we delay drug resistant infections?

As a global problem, drug-resistant infections require a global response.

Better utilization of existing antibiotics in human health and the animal sector is crucial. With limited exposure to antibiotics, bacteria have fewer opportunities to develop resistance.

Health communities around the world are making concrete efforts in this area. For example,Tanzaniais changing the way antibiotics are dispensed through a national network of accredited drug dispensaries.South Africatrains hospital pharmacists in the management of antimicrobials andganauses dance to educate communities on when to take antibiotics. InNigeria, university researchers are training students to interact with people in local communities on the proper use of antimicrobials.

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In Europe, the UK has succeeded in reducing the amount of antibiotics used since 2014 and is now introducing afive year action planto further reduce it.

In addition to administering antibiotics, we need robust surveillance in all countries and sectors. This is to better understand the presence and spread of resistance and take action where and when necessary.

It is also important to develop new rapid and low-cost diagnostics. This helps doctors and pharmacists to differentiate between bacterial and viral infections and prescribe the correct medicine in the correct dose.

To contain resistance, we also need new antibiotics. The development of new medicines presents scientific, economic and regulatory challenges, since it is a very long and expensive process. For these reasons, no new classes of antibiotics have been approved for decades.

Infection prevention is another way to reduce drug resistance. The development of new vaccines, access to clean water, improved sanitation and hygiene are effective ways to achieve this.

What is the difference between antibiotic resistance, antibiotic resistance, and drug-resistant infections?

antibiotic resistanceit is the ability of bacteria to change in such a way that antibiotics become ineffective.

antimicrobial resistance(AMR) is a broader term that includes antibiotic resistance and other types of drug resistance developed by viruses (such as HIV), fungi (such as Candida), and other microbes.

drug resistant infectionsis a term we use to describe diseases caused by resistant microbes, resulting in an infection that is much more difficult, or possibly impossible, to treat.

Welcome Bericht Reframing Resistancerecommendsdrug resistant infectionsas the easiest term to understand when communicating with the public.

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    This article was first published on September 9, 2019.

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