Back to Top Skip to main content

Antibiotic resistance a serious threat that's growing, CDC warns

A bacteriology researcher at the Institute of Medical Research swabs an isolated sample of streptococcus pneumonia in Goroka, Papua New Guinea, June 4, 2015. The researcher is testing the bacteria to determine if the strain has sensitivity to antibiotics or if it is resistant.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Marcus Morris/Released) A bacteriology researcher at the Institute of Medical Research swabs an isolated sample of streptococcus pneumonia in Goroka, Papua New Guinea. The researcher is testing the bacteria to determine if the strain has sensitivity to antibiotics or if it is resistant. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Marcus Morris)

Recommended Content:

Conditions and Treatments | Public Health

Doctors prescribe sick patients antibiotic drugs with the specific intent of knocking out the viral, bacterial or fungal infections that put them under the weather. But new research shows microbial pests have learned to fight back.

During a Nov. 13 telephone briefing for news media, both Dr. Robert R. Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and Michael Craig of the agency’s Antibiotic Resistance Coordination and Strategy Unit, outlined the situation at hand. Each year, more than 2.8 million infections related to antibiotic resistance take place. More than 35,000 people die from those infections.

Redfield and Craig spoke of the CDC’s newly published white paper on the subject, which reports that nearly 3 million Americans “face an antibiotic-resistant infection.”

The report, titled "Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States," identifies 18 known antibiotic-resistant pathogens that must be dealt with before they can proliferate and spread untreatable illnesses. The latest statistics, Redford and Craig said, indicate the problem is far more serious than researchers believed when they prepared the last such report in 2013. Improved measuring methodology has shown that the number of deaths back then was actually twice as high as they believed at the time.

“CDC uses the best data, but [estimates were] conservative at the time,” Craig said.

“It threatens our nation’s health and our global security,” Redfield said. “The good news is we know how to protect ourselves. We’re seeing progress nationwide.”

Related hospital deaths have declined by 18 percent overall and by 30 percent in hospitals alone, Redford said, through the implementation of comprehensive strategies throughout the human and animal health-care professions and agriculture as well. 

The CDC is taking a five-pronged approach toward a solution. It entails: infection prevention and control; tracking and sharing data; improving the appropriate use of antibiotics; investment in vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics; and close monitoring of the environment and sanitation practices.

Within the Military Health System, and particularly at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, researchers are also taking the issue of antimicrobial resistance seriously.

“Over the last few years we have actively been studying the epidemiology and the outcomes associated with antimicrobial resistance infections in military hospitals,” explained Dr. Allison Malloy, assistant professor and infectious disease faculty, Department of Pediatrics, USU. “Consistent with the CDC findings, we have found a high mortality associated with some of these infections.  Across the Department of Defense facilities, we have implemented programs to help control these infections including active surveillance, rapid pathogen identification and targeted treatment, and data-driven antibiotic stewardship programs.”

For example, the Multidrug-Resistant Organism Repository and Surveillance Network (MRSN), under the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, coordinates analysis and management of antibiotic resistance across the entire military health system. This helps military treatment facilities share information, optimize standard practices for infection control and patient safety, identify an outbreak of a pathogen earlier, and make more appropriate antibiotic selections for patients.  MRSN is part of a DoD-wide effort, Antimicrobial Resistance and Monitoring Research Program (ARMoR), which includes DoD hospital laboratories, clinicians and infection control staff; public health reporting groups; Navy and Air Force public health data collection programs; and national policy groups, with the common goal of managing Service programs monitoring antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

“We will continue to monitor for infections and seek to improve the quality of healthcare provided to military members, their families and retirees,” Dr. Malloy said.

While medical community researchers and clinicians are taking action to counter the bad effects of antibiotic resistance, the CDC offered practical advice that would help average citizens mitigate the risks they face. Here are some:

  • When visiting a doctor to treat sickness, ask what could make you feel better rather than request antibiotics specifically. If prescribed antibiotics, use them in the manner in which your provider asks.
  • Follow good hygiene practices. Wash your hands, be careful when handling food or caring for animals.
  • Get vaccinated.
  • Practice safe sex.
  • Be vigilant when traveling abroad.

Health care providers can do their part as well, the report said, by following good infection prevention and control practices and being more vigilant when prescribing antibiotics. Providers also should take note of infections and resistance patterns where they work and in their communities.

You also may be interested in...

Coronavirus: What providers, patients should know

Article
1/24/2020
A dental assistant with the 319th Medical Group, demonstrates proper sanitary procedure by putting on a face mask at the medical treatment facility on Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D.

What to do now that virus has appeared in U.S.

Recommended Content:

Global Health Engagement | Public Health

HPV vaccine now recommended for those up to age 45

Article
1/14/2020
https://www.nfid.org/infectious-diseases/hpv/ Recent CDC and FDA guidance recommends that men and women up to 45 years of age get vaccinated to protect against the Human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection and can cause certain cancers and genital warts. More than 14 million new HPV infections occur in the U.S. each year, and about 80 percent of sexually active men and women are infected with HPV at some point in their lives. (National Foundation for Infectious Diseases image)

HPV shot protects against a host of diseases in men, women

Recommended Content:

Conditions and Treatments | Health Readiness | Preventive Health | Men's Health | Women's Health | Immunization Healthcare | Vaccine-Preventable Diseases | Vaccine Recommendations

Military exchanges extinguish vape sales

Article
10/18/2019
Vape products, including e-cigs, e-cigarettes, vapes, and e-hookahs, are electronic nicotine delivery devices that heat a sometimes flavored nicotine-infused liquid into a vapor that users inhale. The Army and Air Force Exchange Service and the Navy Exchange Service have discontinued the sale of vape products. (DoD photo by Marvin D. Lynchard)

The long-term effects of vaping are unknown and not understood

Recommended Content:

Public Health | Tobacco-Free Living

Health agencies investigating severe lung illnesses linked to e-cigarette use

Article
9/12/2019
"While the CDC investigation of the possible cases of lung illness and deaths reportedly associated with the use of e-cigarette products is ongoing, Service members and their families or dependents are encouraged not to use e-cigarette products,” advised Dr. Terry Adirim, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Health Services Policy and Oversight. (DoD photo)

Thirty-three states report 450 possible cases, six deaths

Recommended Content:

Tobacco-Free Living | Substance Abuse | Public Health

Tick Facts: Dangers at the height of tick season

Article
7/31/2019
A tick like this one, seen at 10x magnification, can spread a number of dangerous pathogens during the warm-weather months. (Photo by Cornel Constantin)

Many diseases are transferred to humans by ticks — Lyme is the most common, but several others, described here, are worth knowing about

Recommended Content:

Bug-Borne Illnesses | Bug Week: July 27 - August 2 | Tick-Borne Illnesses | Health Readiness | Preventive Health | Public Health

Stop the Bleed: A battlefield innovation on civilian soil

Article
7/19/2019
USU's Dr. Craig Goolsby (center) observes as high school students at a conference in Orlando, Florida, practice using a tourniquet after watching a web-based tutorial. Goolsby is researching effective teaching methods as part of a grant to develop a trauma first-aid course for students that incorporates elements of Stop the Bleed. (USU photo by Sarah Marshall)

Program teaches public how to respond to bleeding emergencies

Recommended Content:

Public Health | Innovation | Medical Research and Development | Emergency Preparedness and Response

Preteens, teens target audience for HPV vaccine

Article
4/29/2019
Students from the Oceanside Unified School District enjoy team-building and mentoring activities at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California. Health care experts recommend the HPV vaccine for preteens and teens to protect against human papillomavirus, which is linked to several types of cancer. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Drake Nickels)

Inoculation has 'huge potential' to reduce cancer cases

Recommended Content:

Children's Health | Public Health

Is exercise that’s too intensive resulting in your angina?

Article
4/8/2019
Navy Hospitalman Kiana Bartonsmith checks a patient’s heart rate at Naval Branch Health Clinic Kings Bay in Georgia, one of Naval Hospital Jacksonville’s six health care facilities. (U.S. Navy photo by Jacob Sippel)

Angina is experienced as a feeling of tightness or pressure in the chest that can also radiate out to your neck, jaw, back or shoulders

Recommended Content:

Conditions and Treatments | Health Readiness | Heart Health | Preventive Health

Sudden cardiac death in young athletes

Article
3/7/2019
High school basketball requires skill and rigorous training. In rare but highly publicized cases, it can also bring cardiac issues to the surface. (U.S. Army photo by Chuck Gannon)

Sudden cardiac events can occur in seemingly healthy young people in their teens or twenties, including young servicemembers

Recommended Content:

Conditions and Treatments | Health Readiness | Heart Health | Preventive Health

Summer may be gone, but West Nile Virus remains a threat

Article
10/24/2018
Mosquito activity is still at its peak during early fall but taking steps to prevent mosquito bites can reduce risk of West Nile Virus. (U.S. Army photo)

Taking steps to prevent mosquito bites can be the best way to reduce risk of West Nile Virus infection and other mosquito-borne illnesses

Recommended Content:

Public Health | Mosquito-Borne Illnesses

Paying attention, knowing the signs: How teenagers can help save a life

Article
9/27/2018
Air Force Maj. William Logan, a chaplain with the 35th Fighter Wing, holds a picture of his son, Zac, who committed suicide. Suicide among teenagers remains a concern. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jordyn Fetter)

Suicide is the third leading cause of death for teens, young adults

Recommended Content:

Public Health | Children's Health | Suicide Prevention

Say ‘Shoo’ to the flu with TRICARE

Article
9/26/2018
Amanda LaFountain, a licensed practical nurse, administers the flu shot to a Soldier. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Marshall Metzger)

Flu viruses are serious, contagious viruses that can lead to hospitalization or even death

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Immunization Healthcare | Public Health

Smoking in disguise: Electronic smoking devices labeled ‘healthy’ can be misleading

Article
9/25/2018
Vaping and using e-cigarettes have become very popular in recent years, but users should be aware of known risks and potential dangers. Electronic nicotine delivery systems use noncombustible tobacco products and typically contain nicotine, flavorings, and other chemicals. (DoD file photo)

E-cigarette, vaping on the rise among teens and young adults

Recommended Content:

Public Health | Tobacco-Free Living

Heat rash is common when the mercury climbs

Article
8/14/2018
Heat rash is common in the warm summer months, but military personnel and amputees may be especially at risk. (Courtesy photo)

Anyone can be affected, including children and adults

Recommended Content:

Conditions and Treatments | Public Health

The things head lice carry: Stigma and hassle, but no harm

Article
7/31/2018
Lice are parasitic insects that can be found on people’s heads, and bodies. Human lice survive by feeding on human blood. (EPA photo)

Lice – a common affliction in school children – are gross but harmless

Recommended Content:

Public Health | Summer Safety | Bug-Borne Illnesses
<< < 1 2 > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 2

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing: Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.