Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States, 2013
(2013; 114 pages)


Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States, 2013 is a snapshot of the complex problem of antibiotic resistance today and the potentially catastrophic consequences of inaction. The overriding purpose of this report is to increase awareness of the threat that antibiotic resistance poses and to encourage immediate action to address the threat. This document can serve as a reference for anyone looking for information about antibiotic resistance. It is specifically designed to be accessible to many audiences. For more technical information, references and links are provided.

This report covers bacteria causing severe human infections and the antibiotics used to treat those infections. In addition, Candida, a fungus that commonly causes serious illness, especially among hospital patients, is included because it, too, is showing increasing resistance to the drugs used for treatment. When discussing the pathogens included in this report, Candida will be included when referencing “bacteria” for simplicity. Also, infections caused by the bacteria Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) are also included in this report. Although C. difficile infections are not yet significantly resistant to the drugs used to treat them, most are directly related to antibiotic use and thousands of Americans are affected each year.

Drug resistance related to viruses such as HIV and influenza is not included, nor is drug resistance among parasites such as those that cause malaria. These are important problems but are beyond the scope of this report. The report consists of multiple one or two page summaries of cross-cutting and bacteria- specific antibiotic resistance topics. The first section provides context and an overview of antibiotic resistance in the United States. In addition to giving a national assessment of the most dangerous antibiotic resistance threats, it summarizes what is known about the burden of illness, level of concern, and antibiotics left to defend against these infections. This first section also includes some basic background information, such as fact sheets about antibiotic safety and the harmful impact that resistance can have on high-risk groups, including those with chronic illnesses such as cancer.

CDC estimates that in the United States, more than two million people are sickened every year with antibiotic-resistant infections, with at least 23,000 dying as a result. The estimates are based on conservative assumptions and are likely minimum estimates. They are the best approximations that can be derived from currently available data.

Regarding level of concern, CDC has — for the first time — prioritized bacteria in this report into one of three categories: urgent, serious, and concerning.

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