Today marks the start of World Antibiotic Awareness Week — an event led by WHO, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and the World Organization for Animal Health that promotes appropriate antibiotic use in humans and animals.
“Overuse and misuse of antibiotics in animals and humans is contributing to the rise of antibiotic resistance,” Marc Sprenger, MD, PhD, director of the WHO Antimicrobial Resistance Secretariat, told Infectious Disease News. “Some types of bacteria that cause serious infections in humans have already developed resistance. For example, pneumonia, tuberculosis, blood poisoning and gonorrhea are becoming harder, and sometimes impossible, to treat as antibiotics become less effective, and there are very few promising options in the research pipeline.”
Recent studies have shown that antibiotic resistance increases hospital stays, medical costs and mortality, according to Sprenger. Implementing evidence-based interventions that support antimicrobial stewardship practices will be crucial to prolonging the efficacy of current treatments, he said.
“Antimicrobial stewardship is all about behavior change, more specifically antibiotic prescribing behavior,” Sprenger said. “This requires not only updated clinical antibiotic guidelines but also continued monitoring of antibiotic use, involvement of prescribers in assessing their own prescribing practice and setting targets for change. Behaviors are not changed overnight but through resilience and systematic work over time.”
To mark the occasion of World Antibiotic Awareness Week, Infectious Disease News has compiled a list of the top stories on antimicrobial resistance over the past year. – by Stephanie Viguers
Helen W. Boucher
Antimicrobial resistance over 3 decades: Moving toward a post-antibiotic era
Infectious Disease News spoke with Helen W. Boucher, MD, FACP, FIDSA, and other experts about the critical role of infection prevention, antimicrobial stewardship and education in combatting antibiotic resistance. Read more.
WHO releases list of ‘priority pathogens’ in urgent need of new antibiotics
WHO released its first-ever list of antibiotic-resistant “priority pathogens” that pose the greatest threat to human health. The list is intended to promote research and development of new antibiotic treatments. Read more.
Code red for MDR bacteria: Resistance to carbapenems doubles in ICUs
Thomas P. Lodise
Thomas P. Lodise, PharmD, PhD, professor at the Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in Albany, New York, discusses an alarming increase in multidrug-resistant bacteria in U.S. hospitals. Read more.
Q&A: Physician prescribing behavior impacts drug resistance
Barbara Jones, MD, assistant professor of internal medicine at University of Utah Health and pulmonologist at the Veterans Affairs Salt Lake City Health Care System, discusses how physicians can improve their prescribing habits and antibiotic stewardship. Read more.
Access, watch, reserve: WHO committee advises when to use common antibiotics
For the first time in its 40-year history, WHO’s Model List of Essential Medicines includes advice on when and when not to use certain antibiotics — a significant change that health officials said was aimed at containing the global threat of antimicrobial resistance, optimizing treatment and preserving last-resort antibiotics. Read more.
Keys to successful ASP development
In this editorial, Priya Nori, MD, medical director of antibiotic stewardship at Montefiore Health System, and colleagues offer guidance on how physicians can adapt the CDC's Core Elements of Antimicrobial Stewardship to their institutions. Read more.
WHO asks farmers to stop using antibiotics in healthy animals
To preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics in humans, WHO is calling for an end to their use in healthy animals.
In new guidelines, WHO recommends that farmers and the food industry stop using antibiotics to promote growth and prevent disease in healthy animals — a practice that drives antimicrobial resistance around the globe. Read more.
Researchers propose limiting meat intake to keep antibiotics effective
Ramanan Laxminarayan, PhD, director of the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy, and colleagues said that capping drug use in animals, imposing a user fee on the price of veterinary antimicrobials or limiting meat intake could reduce up to 80% of antimicrobial use worldwide by 2030. Read more.
Experts warn again of drug-resistant gonorrhea
Health experts are sounding the alarm over the specter of untreatable gonorrhea as the once easily curable STD continues to show decreased susceptibility to the last known effective treatment.
According to WHO data, the number of countries that have reported drug-resistant gonorrhea infections increased between 2009 and 2014. Experts say the widespread resistance of gonorrhea underscores the urgent need for new antibiotics to fill a depleted pipeline that currently includes just three candidate drugs. Read more.
WHO: ‘Serious lack’ of antibiotics in development to address resistance
WHO warned of a “serious lack” of new antibiotics in development to address the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance.
The world health agency said that as of May, the antibiotic pipeline included 51 antibiotics and 11 biologicals but few innovative solutions. It said the pipeline is filled with short-term fixes — drugs that are modifications of existing classes of antibiotics. Read more.
Disclosure: Sprenger is director of the WHO Antimicrobial Resistance Secretariat.