Antibiotic Drug Resistant Threat Growing at Alarming Rate, Warns CDC (Infographic)

Antibiotic drug resistance is a growing threat all around the world, and one that affects us all. More than two million people in the U.S. get sick every year due to antibiotic-resistant infections and at least 23,000 die from them, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which calls these figures “conservative assumptions” and “likely minimum estimates.”

In its report, Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States, 2013, the CDC spells out the threat of antibiotic-resistant germs on human health and on our economy. It is estimated that antibiotic resistance costs more than $20 billion in direct health care costs in the U.S., with a lost productivity estimate of $35 billion on top of that.

The main reason for antibiotic resistance is the use of antibiotics, and it is thought that as much at half of all antibiotics prescribed are prescribed inappropriately.

Antibiotics are also in the food supply, given to food-producing animals to prevent, control, and treat disease — and to promote growth.

Infographic: CDC

Over the past 70 years or so, antibiotics have played an important role in reducing illness and death from infectious diseases. Unfortunately, they’ve been used for so long, and for so many reasons, that infectious organisms have adapted to them, robbing the drugs of their effectiveness. These days, people with antimicrobial-resistant organisms generally face longer hospital says, increased expense, and a higher likelihood of death from the infection.


Infographic: CDC

“Every time antibiotics are used in any setting, bacteria evolve by developing resistance.†This process can happen with alarming speed,” said Steve Solomon, M.D., director of CDCís Office of Antimicrobial Resistance. †”These drugs are a precious, limited resource — the more we use antibiotics today, the less likely we are to have effective antibiotics tomorrow.”

We count on antibiotics to ward of infection due to injury and medical procedures like organ transplants and other surgeries. Without them, our ability to perform procedures that save or improves lives will be seriously impaired.

“Antibiotic resistance is rising for many different pathogens that are threats to health,Ē said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. ďIf we donít act now, our medicine cabinet will be empty and we wonít have the antibiotics we need to save lives.”

The CDC identifies four core actions to combat antibiotic resistance:

  • Prevention: Avoiding infections reduces the amount of antibiotics that have to be used and reduces the likelihood that resistance will develop. Drug-resistant infections can be prevented by immunization, infection prevention actions in healthcare settings, safe food preparation and handling, and general hand washing.
  • Tracking: The CDC gathers data on antibiotic-resistant infections, causes, and whether there are particular reasons that cause some people to get a resistant infection so experts can develop strategies to prevent those infections and prevent the resistant bacteria from spreading.
  • Improving Antibiotic Use/Stewardship: Up to half of antibiotic use in humans and much of antibiotic use in animals is unnecessary. The commitment to always use antibiotics appropriately and safely — only when they are needed to treat disease Ė and to choose the right antibiotics and to administer them in the right way in every case is known as antibiotic stewardship.
  • Developing Drugs and Diagnostic Tests: Because antibiotic resistance occurs as part of a natural process in which bacteria evolve, it can be slowed but not completely stopped. Therefore, new antibiotics always will be needed to keep up with resistant bacteria, as will new tests to track the development of resistance.

Read the full CDC report.

Related Reading
Antibiotics on Your Apples: What You Need to Know
80% of Antibiotics in the U.S. Go to Factory Farms
Why Are Antibiotics Still Used in Livestock?

Main Post Photo: CDC microbiologist Valerie Albrecht holds up two plates of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).


Carrie-Anne Brown

thanks for sharing :)

Prima B.
PrimaAWAY B4 years ago

Thank You!

Mary Donnelly
Mary Donnelly4 years ago

Thanks--too many people seek recourse to drugs as a first step, not the last. Bugs are clever they can adapt better and more quickly than we do.

Mary B.
Mary B4 years ago

We have known this for years already, so why is it coming up again? Some times I think we're all stuck in a bad old movie that keeps being re-played by people who think people need to 'learn' something so they keep upping the anti hoping it will 'wake us up'.

Biby C.
Biby C4 years ago

Haven't we already known this for years and years now?

heather g.
heather g4 years ago

Bad choices by irresponsible, short-sighted people endanger the good health of many.

Carole R.
Carole R4 years ago

Scarey stuff.

Donna Ferguson
Donna F4 years ago

thanks for sharing

Genoveva M.
Genoveva M M4 years ago

Thanks for sharing this information.

Dimitris Dallis
Past Member 4 years ago

Thank you very much for the article!