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CDC modeling projects growth of drug-resistant infections and C. difficile

Dr. Tom Frieden

Washington, DC, August 6 – The latest CDC Vital Signs includes mathematical modeling that projects increases in drug-resistant infections and Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) without immediate, nationwide improvements in infection control and antibiotic prescribing.

The promising news is that CDC modeling projects that a coordinated approach—that is, health care facilities and health departments in an area working together—could prevent up to 70 percent of life-threatening carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) infections over five years. Additional estimates show that national infection control and antibiotic stewardship efforts led by federal agencies, health care facilities, and public health departments could prevent 619,000 antibiotic-resistant and C. difficile infections and save 37,000 lives over five years.

Antibiotic-resistant germs, those that no longer respond to the drugs designed to kill them, cause more than 2 million illnesses and at least 23,000 deaths each year in the United States. C. difficile caused close to half a million illnesses in 2011, and an estimated 15,000 deaths a year are directly attributable to C. difficile infections.

“Antibiotic resistant infections in health care settings are a growing threat in the United States, killing thousands and thousands of people each year,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “We can dramatically reduce these infections if health care facilities, nursing homes, and public health departments work together to improve antibiotic use and infection control so patients are protected.”

The Vital Signs report shows that C. difficile and drug-resistant bacteria—like CRE, MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), and resistantPseudomonas aeruginosa—spread inside of and between health care facilities when appropriate infection control actions are not in place and patients transfer from one health care facility to another for care. These infections can lead to serious health complications, including sepsis or death. Even facilities following recommended infection control and antibiotic use practices are at risk when they receive patients who carry these germs from other health care facilities.

The data in the Vital Signs report come from both mathematical modeling and analysis estimates. CDC used two mathematical simulation models to estimate the impact of the coordinated approach in preventing the spread of antibiotic-resistant germs within a group of health care facilities in an area. Data from CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network and Emerging Infections Program informed projections of the number of infections and deaths in the U.S.

During the next five years, with investments, CDC’s efforts to combat C. difficile infections and antibiotic resistance under the National Strategy to Combat Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria, in collaboration with other federal partners, will enhance national capabilities for antibiotic stewardship, outbreak surveillance, and antibiotic resistance prevention. These efforts hold the potential to cut the incidence of C. difficile, health care CRE, and MRSA bloodstream infections by at least half.

 

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