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U.S. Is Lagging in Effort to Control Superbugs

New Online Map Rates Countries on Level of Antibiotic Resistance to Infections

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Overall, the South shows higher levels of antibiotic resistance than other parts of the U.S. For example, states in the south Atlantic region report that 13% to 14% of infections of Klebsiella pneumoniae, another common disease-causing bacterium, are antibiotic resistant; nationally, that rate, says Braykov, is 9%.

Other resistant bacteria that are becoming increasingly common include Acinetobacter baumannii, which can cause a deadly infection that is associated with soldiers returning from Iraq, and E. coli, a common bacterium that is showing more and more resistance to common antibiotics.

Though the map illuminates where the problem is most prevalent, Braykov says that it does not help explain what accounts for the differences between countries. He says that certain countries have put more effort into dealing with the problem. But it's quite possible that the high rates in the U.S. and other countries may be due, at least in part, to a particularly tough strain of infection found in those countries and not others.

The purpose of the map, says Braykov, was not to determine cause and effect. Instead, it was to highlight the problem both for health officials and the public.

"The maps are a call for attention, a call for action," says Braykov. "These infections are a burden on the health care system in general, and the maps show a troubling signal of things to come."

WebMD Health News Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD on September 21, 2011



Nikolay Braykov, research analyst, Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics, and Policy, Washington, D.C.

Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics, and Policy: "Resistance Map."

CDC web site: "MRSA Statistics."

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases web site: "Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococci (VRE)."

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation web site: "New Study Finds MRSA on the Rise in Hospital Outpatients."

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