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Critical antibiotic resistant superbug list released by WHO

Critical antibiotic resistant superbug list released by WHO - Featured Image

The World Health Organisation has released a list of the most critical bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics, in the hope that governments will act soon.

These bugs could pose a risk to patients in hospitals and nursing homes by causing severe and often deadly infections among patients requiring devices like ventilators or blood catheters.

The bacteria have built-in abilities to find new ways to resist treatment. They can also pass along genetic material to allow other bacteria to also become drug resistant.

According to Dr Marie-Paule Kieny, WHO’s Assistant Director-General for Health Systems and Innovation, “This list is a new tool to ensure R&D (research and development) responds to urgent public health needs.”

“Antibiotic resistance is growing, and we are fast running out of treatment options. If we leave it to market forces alone, the new antibiotics we most urgently need are not going to be developed in time,” she said.

Related: Superbugs could be ‘worse than global financial crisis’: World Bank

The WHO have released 12 bugs divided into three categories based on the urgency of the need for new antibiotics.

The superbugs are:

Priority 1: CRITICAL

  1. Acinetobacter baumannii, carbapenem-resistant
  2. Pseudomonas aeruginosa, carbapenem-resistant
  3. Enterobacteriaceae, carbapenem-resistant, ESBL-producing

Priority 2: HIGH

  1. Enterococcus faecium, vancomycin-resistant
  2. Staphylococcus aureus, methicillin-resistant, vancomycin-intermediate and resistant
  3. Helicobacter pylori, clarithromycin-resistant
  4. Campylobacter, fluoroquinolone-resistant
  5. Salmonellae, fluoroquinolone-resistant
  6. Neisseria gonorrhoeae, cephalosporin-resistant, fluoroquinolone-resistant

Priority 3: MEDIUM

  1. Streptococcus pneumoniae, penicillin-non-susceptible
  2. Haemophilus influenzae, ampicillin-resistant
  3. Shigella, fluoroquinolone-resistant

Dr Rietie Venter is Head of Microbiology at the Sansom Institute for Health Research at the University of South Australia highlights that it was one of these organisms that was responsible for an American woman’s death earlier this year as the organism was resistant to all antibiotics available in the US.

Related: We need more than just new antibiotics to fight superbugs

Despite this reality, research into antimicrobials is still not very well supported by pharmaceutical companies.

“We can only hope that the publication of this list would translate into the necessary funding to develop new antimicrobials and prevent us from slipping into a world without effective antimicrobials where small injuries would once again be life-threatening and modern medicine such as transplants would be impossible to practice,” she said.

According to Professor Ramon Shaban, President of the Australasian College for Infection Prevention and Control, antimicrobial resistance shouldn’t be considered just a problem for clinicians in human sectors.

“It is a whole of society challenge, and many of the solutions are non-clinical. It, like infection control, is everyone’s business,” he concludes.

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