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CDC Warns of Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria

Update Date: Sep 18, 2013 10:07 AM EDT

At least two million Americans fall ill from antibiotic bacteria every year and at least 23,000 die from those infections, according to a report released by CDC on Monday.

The numbers of deaths is substantially lower than previous estimates. The reason is Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stripped out cases in which a drug-resistant infection was present but not necessarily the cause of death.

“They have come up with hard numbers where it has been only guesswork,” said Dr. Stuart B. Levy, a professor of microbiology at Tufts University and the president of the Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics. “This sets a baseline we can all believe in," he also added.

In 2007, according to the CDC estimates, about 100,000 people died every year of infections developed while they were in hospitals. It was unclear that how many deaths were caused by the drug-resistant infections. This report quantifies that.

The 114-page report said that “much of antibiotic use in animals is unnecessary and inappropriate and makes everyone less safe.” It also said that about half of antibiotic use in people is inappropriate.

The report also counts infections from 17 drug-resistant bacteria and one fungus.

One particularly lethal type of drug-resistant bacteria, commonly known as CRE, has become resistant to nearly all antibiotics on the market. The researchers have identified it in health care facilities of 44 states. CRE caused 600 deaths a year.

“We are getting closer and closer to the cliff,” said Dr. Michael Bell, a C.D.C. official who presented the data.

Some researchers who are not involved in the study, said it offered evidence that living near farms increased one's chances of developing MRSA infection.

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