Stop the Spread of Antibiotic Resistance and C. difficile Infections

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Antibiotic-resistant germs cause more than 2 million illnesses and at least 23,000 deaths each year in the US.

Up to 70% fewer patients will get CRE over 5 years if facilities coordinate to protect patients.

Preventing infections and improving antibiotic prescribing could save 37,000 lives from drug-resistant infections over 5 years.

Problem:  Germs spread between patients and across health care facilities.

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Antibiotic resistance is a threat.

 

  • Nightmare germs called CRE (carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae) can cause deadly infections and have become resistant to all or nearly all antibiotics we have today. CRE spread between health care facilities like hospitals and nursing homes when appropriate actions are not taken.
  • MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) infections commonly cause pneumonia and sepsis that can be deadly.
  • The germ Pseudomonas aeruginosa can cause HAIs, including bloodstream infections. Strains resistant to almost all antibiotics have been found in hospitalized patients.
  • These germs are some of the most deadly resistant germs identified as “urgent” and “serious” threats.
C. difficile infections are at historically high rates.
  • C. difficile (Clostridium difficile), a germ commonly found in health care facilities, can be picked up from contaminated surfaces or spread from a healthcare provider’s hands.
  • Most C. difficile is not resistant to antibiotics, but when a person takes antibiotics, some good germs are destroyed. Antibiotic use allows C. difficile to take over, putting patients at high risk for deadly diarrhea.
Working together is vital.
  • Infections and antibiotic use in one facility affect other facilities because of patient transfers.
  • Public health leadership is critical so that facilities are alerted to data about resistant infections, C. difficile, or outbreaks in the area, and can target effective prevention strategies.
  • When facilities are alerted to increased threat levels, they can improve antibiotic use and infection control actions so that patients are better protected.
  • National efforts to prevent infections and improve antibiotic prescribing could prevent 619,000 antibiotic-resistant and C. difficile infections over 5 years.

 

  • “Patients and their families may wonder how they can help stop the spread of infections,” says Michael Bell, M.D., deputy director of CDC’s Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion. “When receiving health care, tell your doctor if you have been hospitalized in another facility or country, wash your hands often, and always insist that everyone have clean hands before touching you.”

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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.

 The report recommends the following coordinated, two-part approach to turn this data into action that prevents illness and saves lives:

  1. Public health departments track and alert health care facilities to drug-resistant germ outbreaks in their area and the threat of germs coming from other facilities, and
  2. Health care facilities work together and with public health authorities to implement shared infection control actions to stop the spread of antibiotic-resistant germs and C. difficile between facilities.

“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 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.

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.

The proposed State Antibiotic Resistance Prevention Programs (Protect Programs) would implement this coordinated approach. These Protect Programs would be made possible by the funding proposed in the President’s FY 2016 budget request, supporting work with health care facilities in all 50 states to detect and prevent both antibiotic-resistant germs and C. difficile infections. The FY 2016 budget would also accelerate efforts to improve antibiotic stewardship in health care facilities.