More people infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, according to research
More people are being diagnosed with antibiotic resistant infections, with more than two million people in Australia currently infected with a strain of antibiotic-resistance bacteria, researchers have revealed.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and its Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) have released new figures that show that between March 2017 and April 2018, more than 2.5 million people have been diagnosed with the strain of the superbug, which is known as “super-suicide”.
“This is the most severe and sustained global outbreak of antibiotic resistance since the introduction of the antibiotic carbapenem in the UK,” said Dr David Schmitz, the Australian Institute for Health and Behaviour Research (AIhB), which carried out the research.
“We expect that the emergence of this new resistant strain will impact on the overall rate of antibiotic use and use by healthcare providers and that this will have a significant impact on our ability to reduce antibiotic resistance across the board.”
Researchers from AIhB, the University of Melbourne and the University at Adelaide used data from the Australia, New Zealand, New South Wales and Queensland governments to estimate the number of new cases of antibiotic resistant bacteria across Australia between March 2016 and April 2019.
“In this year’s report, we estimate that the global spread of antibiotic susceptibility is estimated to have increased by more than one million cases,” said AIhBs Chief Executive Professor Andrew Rees.
“It is likely that this new antibiotic resistance is the result of a combination of global spread, antibiotic-related changes in health care settings, and an increase in antibiotic use.”
While the new antibiotic resistant strains are expected to be particularly prevalent in the western world, they have also been detected in other parts of the world and in the US as well.
“These new strains will likely have a substantial impact on how we think about antibiotic resistance in the future.”
In terms of the overall prevalence of the new resistant strains, researchers estimate that they are now prevalent in every state and territory in Australia, with most of the prevalence estimated to be in the Northern Territory, South Australia and the Northern Rivers region.
The report notes that antibiotic-susceptible infections are not limited to people with skin infections, but can also occur with other medical conditions such as diabetes and respiratory illnesses.
“This new strain is not only very resistant to carbapentin, but also to other antibiotics such as carbaprevir and tetracycline,” Professor Rees said.
“So if you have diabetes and you are on a drug called carbaprime, it can be incredibly hard to get through that and get the drug to work.”
When you have a drug that doesn’t work well, it’s extremely difficult to get it through the system.
“Prof Rees warned that the new strain of super-suicides is not an isolated incident.”
The new super-sicides are believed to be the result a combination, or synergy, of two other superbug strains: a new strain called “superficially-resistant” and a previously unknown strain, “supersuicide-resistant”.””
We can’t afford to have more of these cases of resistance.”
The new super-sicides are believed to be the result a combination, or synergy, of two other superbug strains: a new strain called “superficially-resistant” and a previously unknown strain, “supersuicide-resistant”.
“These are very new infections that have been emerging,” Professor Schmitzz said.
The researchers estimate there are approximately 30,000 new antibiotic- resistant bacteria infections per year worldwide.
“There is no easy way to predict how many of these infections will actually occur, because they are very resistant and they do appear to have very large impact on health care services,” he added.
“However, we do have good information from research in other countries, including in the USA and in Europe, and we are seeing that a number of the other super-resistant organisms have been introduced into Australia.”
Prof Schmitzik said the new supersuicides are also being found in the United States.
“A number of people are getting supersuicide resistant bacteria, which means that they can be treated with a range of antibiotics, including those that are prescribed by healthcare professionals,” he explained.
“If you have an infection and it is antibiotic-sensitive and the antibiotic you use is not working, then it can make the infection resistant.”
Professor Rees explained that the research team is working to identify the new bacteria in Australia.
“One of the things we want to do is identify the strains that are being introduced in Australia and how they are spreading and what they are doing to the country,” he noted.
“The first step is identifying the populations, but we also want to identify if we can predict the number that will be introduced into the country.”
Professor Schmitze said it was important to remember that the number will fluctuate based on a number.
“People are going to have their own preferences for how much antibiotic they use, so we don’t know the exact number,” he observed.