Bacteria That Pose Greatest Risk to Human Health

Gerry Wright

Twelve types of bacteria were deemed "priorities" in urgent need of new antibiotics, according to a list released by the World Health Organization on Monday.

"As important as new antibiotics are, to stop the rise in resistant infections we need to do more". To address the issue, the authorities must ensure better prevention of infections and appropriate use of existing antibiotics in humans and animals - besides rational application of new drugs developed in the future.

The critical group includes infection-causing bacteria that are resistant to several drugs and pose a particular threat in hospitals and nursing homes, and specifically to patients on ventilators or fitted with blood catheters. What you're really doing is basically setting up a training camp for bacteria, helping them to adapt and breed descendants more resistant to antibiotics. The last three pathogens, including Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, and shigella, are considered "medium priority", because they're now susceptible to antibiotics, though experts fear they'll soon become resistant as well.

Each year, at least 2 million people acquire antibiotic-resistant infection and 23,000 die as a result, according to the CDC.

High-priority pathogens also include Enterococcus faecium (vancomycin-resistant), Helicobacter pylori (clarithromycin-resistant) and Campylobacter spp.

"It costs a lot of money to develop a drug, so the World Health Organization releasing this list of urgent priority bugs is an important call to action to develop new antibiotics to prevent more deaths", she said.

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Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny, WHO's Assistant Director-General for Health Systems and Innovation, says that new treatments are an imperative for the medical community as "these bacteria are responsible for high mortality rates". Remembering how unsafe are these infections are regarding the critical-listed bacteria, this represents a serious public health problem for the United States government. Carbapenems and third-generation cephalosporin are the best available antibiotics for treating multidrug-resistant bacteria; however, these bacteria have become resistant to many antibiotics, including carbapenems and cephalosporin.

The remaining nine bacteria on the list also show resistance to antibiotics but pose a less significant health threat. These bacteria have built-in abilities to find new ways to resist treatment and can pass along genetic material that allows other bacteria to become drug-resistant as well. Neisseria gonorrhea, a sexually transmitted infection that's becoming increasingly resistant to its main treatment options, is also in this category.

The list, released Monday, is meant to highlight those antibiotic-resistant bacteria for which new treatments are most sorely needed. Well, all of them pose risks and are high priority, but this is the priority ranking of the high priority.

In addition, he said identifying carbapenem-resistant bacteria as the highest priority for research and development was "spot on". She said pharmaceutical companies and research institutions alone must not be left to investigate these bacteria, but a collaborative effort between all stakeholders in the health sector, CNN reported.

Fowler cited the IDSA-supported 21st Century Cures Act, which includes a provision that would help speed new antibiotics to market, as a step in the right direction for antibiotic development.

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