Infections due to antibiotic-resistant bacteria are threatening modern health care. Resistant strains of bacteria spread also in Europe via manure, water, soil, and air. Alessandro Cassini, European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, Solna, Sweden, and colleagues have studied the frequency of infections and deaths from the eight most resistant bacteria in Europe. These include multidrug-resistant strains of Enterococci, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Streptococcus pneumoniae, as well as the hospital germ MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus).
Since 2007, the number of infections by resistant bacteria has increased significantly. In 2015 alone, there were more than 670,000 infections with resistant bacteria in Europe. 33,000 people died as a direct result of these infections. This causes a greater disease burden in Europe than flu, tuberculosis, and HIV combined.
Most fatalities claimed infections with MRSA, Cephalosporin-resistant variants of the intestinal bacterium Escherichia coli, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa resistant to the antibiotic carbapenem. 75 % of those affected were infected in hospitals and other medical facilities. The researchers estimate that resistant bacteria could be transmitted in these locations with every fourth infection. It is particularly alarming that around 39 % of such infections are caused by pathogens that are immune to the emergency antibiotics colistin and carbapenem. These remedies are the last weapons against resistant pathogens.
The number of cases in Europe differs significantly from country to country: Especially many infections with resistant pathogens exist in Italy, Greece, and the Balkans. The researchers emphasize that their findings underscore the need for prevention and control strategies targeted to each country.
- Attributable deaths and disability-adjusted life-years caused by infections with antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the EU and the European Economic Area in 2015: a population-level modelling analysis,
Alessandro Cassini, Liselotte Diaz Högberg, Diamantis Plachouras, Annalisa Quattrocchi, Ana Hoxha, Gunnar Skov Simonsen, Mélanie Colomb-Cotinat, Mirjam E Kretzschmar, Brecht Devleesschauwer, Michele Cecchini, Driss Ait Ouakrim, Tiago Cravo Oliveira, Marc J Struelens, Carl Suetens, Dominique L Monnet,
The Lancet 2018.