image from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
There was a pretty scary report assessing threat levels of antibiotic resistant microbes published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the U.S. this week. You can download the entire report here. There have been lots of great blog posts about this filling the interwebsphere all week. One of the findings that is quite sobering is that in the U.S., it is estimated that about 2 million people will become ill as a result of antibiotic-resistant microbes, and about 23 000 will die every year. One can only assume that these numbers will rise as antibiotic resistant strains continue to emerge and increase in overall numbers. These problems are compounded by the facts that antibiotic use is widespread not only in medicine, but also in our food supplies, and new antibiotic drug discovery is slow, with the changes incremental (usually). The recommendations in the article include (1) prevention, (2) tracking, (3) improving prescription practices and (4) developing new drugs and tests for microbes. I often comment on point 4, and this week I posted an article about an antibiotic in the development stages that can be turned off and on. Where do I personally think the future treatment of microbial infections lies. I think a large component of treatments, in the future, will revolve around manipulating the microbiome (see my post from Sept. 6 for more info). This will be combined with a more rigorous set of criteria needed before traditional antibiotics are prescribed to patients. We are already starting to see the later occurring in Victoria, with buses carrying ads for the `Do Bugs Need Drugs` campaign.