WHO deeply concerned about antibiotic resistance: “Global threat”

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“Global threat” – WHO warns of antibiotic resistance

Petri dishes with so-called hospital germs that show multiple resistances to antibiotics

Petri dishes with so-called hospital germs that show multiple resistances to antibiotics

Source: dpa/Armin Weigel

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The WHO estimates that 1.3 million people die every year because antibiotics don’t work on their infections. From 2017 to 2021 alone, the number of infections caused by resistant bacteria increased by 15 percent. This may also be due to the corona pandemic.

Dhe World Health Organization (WHO) is deeply concerned about the increasing resistance of bacteria to antibiotics. “Antimicrobial resistance is a global threat, both to public health and to the economy,” said WHO expert Catharina van Weezenbeek. The WHO estimates that 1.3 million people die every year because Antibiotics are not working on their infections. She presented her new report on antibiotic resistance (AMR) in Geneva on Friday.

The EU health authority ECDC recently reported that more than 35,000 people die every year in the European Economic Area due to antibiotic resistance. The health consequences are comparable to those of flu, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS together, the agency said.

According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), around 2,500 people die every year in Germany from multi-resistant pathogens alone, i.e. those that are resistant to several antibiotics at the same time. In addition, there are deaths in the course of individual resistances.

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Illustration of bacteria in the bloodstream

From 2017 to 2021, the number of bloodstream infections caused by resistant Escherichia coli and Salmonella spp. and resistant gonorrhea bacteria increased by at least 15 percent worldwide, according to the current WHO report. It is possible that this is also due to the frequent use of antibiotics in the context of the corona pandemic.

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In the case of bacteria such as Klebsiella pneumoniae and Acinetobacter spp., which often cause bloodstream infections in hospitals, high resistance values ​​of around 50 percent to commonly used agents have now been reported, the WHO reported. They would have to be treated with the strongest antibiotics, but according to the reports from the federal states, eight percent of the Klebsiella pneumoniae bacteria are already resistant to this.

127 countries reported to WHO database

The WHO also emphasizes that better data is needed. In some countries, reports only come from a few highly specialized clinics, which naturally only treat the most severe cases. Therefore the picture may be distorted.

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127 countries reported to the WHO database. So far, China has not been one of them. It was said that Beijing was in talks. Laboratories and diagnostic tools are lacking in many poorer countries, according to the WHO. This creates pressure on doctors and clinics to use the latest and strongest means without a clear diagnosis, even if that is possibly not necessary, said van Weezenbeek. Even in their home country, the Netherlands, patients often demand the latest antibiotics without there being an indication for their use.

the WHO sees a glimmer of hope if action is taken quickly, as WHO expert Carmem Pessoa-Silva said: the resistance of bacteria to agents that are currently used as a “last resort” are still low. If unnecessary and incorrect applications were stopped, they could remain effective longer. But action must be taken now, not in five years. It is also necessary to develop new classes of antibiotics.

In hospitals in particular, bacteria often circulate against which hardly any antibiotics are effective. Experts speak of antibiotic resistance when patients do not react to an antibiotic, i.e. when the bacteria that cause the disease are not destroyed by the antibiotic. Pathogens are called multi-resistant, against which several or all available antibiotics are no longer effective.

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