If You Think Ebola Was Bad…
Despite the fact that only a handful of people have been infected with Ebola in the United States, widespread public anxiety and media coverage have quickly escalated the virus to the forefront of public health fears. While these concerns are justified, another imminent threat with little to no public awareness is rapidly spreading – antibiotic resistance.
Every year, more than five million people in the United States and Europe become infected with resistant bacterial infections, with at least 48,000 dying as a direct result of these infections, according to the CDC and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
In a recent commentary, infectious disease specialist Barry Eisenstein, M.D., said that a nightmare scenario will emerge if more attention is not devoted to the proliferation of drug-resistant bacteria.
“The death rate worldwide from otherwise manageable infections will skyrocket, to Ebola-like dimensions, with bloodstream infection rates expected to run higher than 50 percent,” Eisenstein wrote.
Eisenstein emphasizes the urgency that must be placed on coming up with a solution to the issue of antibiotic resistance and outlines a four-point blueprint for next steps:
- Enforce better surveillance and stricter all-around infection control in hospitals, tracking all data globally
- Demonstrate vigilant stewardship by using antibiotics only when necessary
- Reform reimbursement policies to accelerate investment and innovation
- Develop new, targeted antibiotics through clear-cut regulatory pathways and rapid diagnostics
If the healthcare community chooses to devote the same amount of attention and resources to combating antibiotic resistance as is currently being devoted to fighting Ebola, this public health emergency can be addressed before it becomes unmanageable.