WHO Releases Top 12 List of Worst Superbugs

Posted March 02, 2017

In simple terms, the main cause of this scary trend is that we've been taking too many antibiotics and using them widely to grow livestock for food in mainly developed countries. This report is meant to serve as a guide for researching and developing new medicines.

The bacteria listed are divided into three categories based on the urgency with which new antibiotics are needed against them.

The list highlights in particular the threat of "gram-negative" bacteria that were resistant to multiple antibiotics. That's why the World Health Organization is releasing this list: to underline the urgent need to think ahead and start working overtime towards developing alternative treatments.

Once this happens, these bacteria become "resistant" the to antibiotic to which they have been exposed, which means the antibiotic can not kill the bacteria or stop them from multiplying.

Tuberculosis was not listed because well-funded programmes already exist to develop new antibiotics, said the WHO.

Drug-resistant bacteria infect millions of people around the world, though experts on the press call said it's hard to know precisely how many people are affected each year, or how many infections result in death.

The WHO officials could not give estimates to antibiotic resistance death tolls, due to classification difficulties with causes of death. The high priority group lists bacteria such as Enterococcus faecium, Staphylococcus aureus, Helicobacter pylori, Campylobacter spp., Salmonellae, and Neisseria gonorrhoeae - these are resistant to strong antibiotics such as vancomycin, clarithromycin, fluoroquinolone and cephalosporin.

"It costs a lot of money to develop a drug, so the World Health Organization releasing this list of urgent priority bugs is an important call to action to develop new antibiotics to prevent more deaths", she said.

The critical pathogens are also challenging because their resistance elements are contained on pieces of highly mobile pieces of DNA and can easily spread to other bacteria, healthcare workers, and to the healthcare environment.

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These bacteria have become resistant to a large number of antibiotics, including the best now available antibiotics for treating multidrug-resistant bacteria (carbapenems and third generation cephalosporins). "We can take action and turn the tide - or lose the drugs we have".

The United National health agency said many of these bacteria have already evolved into deadly superbugs that are resistant to many antibiotics.

Doctors might prescribe the pills - or patients demand them - to treat illnesses that aren't actually bacterial infections. She added that antibiotics are often used as short-term treatments, meaning there is less market motivation for drug companies to make them.

The top three bacteria listed under the priority section do not have an antibiotic to treat someone who becomes infected.

Scientists and health workers welcomed the list for bringing attention to the problem and calling on governments to prioritize antibiotic research and development.

"These bacteria are responsible for severe infections and high mortality rates", Kieny said. Acinetobacter baumannii, carbapenem-resistant 2.

To address resistance, there must be better prevention of infections and appropriate use of existing antibiotics in humans and animals, as well as rational use of new antibiotics.

One of the infections at the top is a bacterium called Klebsiella that has recently developed resistance to a powerful class of antibiotics called carbapenems.