Health officials say antibiotic-resistant bacteria continue to rise and pose threats that can lead to fatal infections. The head of the nation’s public health organization took that message to Cleveland today. ideastream’s Brian Bull reports:
Speaking at the Cleveland Clinic, the head of the Centers for Disease Control reiterated findings of his agency.
Dr. Tom Frieden said for a decade now “nightmare bacteria” have done a lot of harm in America.
“We found that more than 2 million Americans have drug resistant infections each year, and that by the lowest possible estimate it was causing 23,000 deaths per year," said Frieden. "In addition, something called C. Difficile or CDIF, which is an antibiotic associated infection, is causing or contributing to about 14,000 deaths a year.”
Frieden added that so-called superbugs can kill half of infected patients. But he said there’s still time to tackle and control them.
The CDC is pushing for an item in the 2015 federal budget to fund an initiative that could help halve the toughest “nightmare bacteria” within five years.
U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown appeared with Frieden. He is a sponsor of legislation introduced in the Senate in April called STAAR – which stands for the Strategies to Address Antimicrobrial Resistance -- Act. A House version of the bill was introduced for the second time more than a year ago but has yet to advance past a Congressional committee.
"I think that members of Congress don’t think much about issues like antibiotic resistance. You don’t go home on weekends and to town hall meetings, people talk about the public health issues. I mean, public health, overall, suffers from the inattention it deserves.”
Brown says it’ll take some further education of his Congressional colleagues to better understand the seriousness of the issue.