Superbugs Are a ‘Costly War We Can’t Win’: Doctors
By: Mark Koba
Thursday, 4 Apr 2013
Germs are perfect machines of evolution. Their ability to mutate and survive attempts (by humans and nature) to destroy them has led to some being called “superbugs.”
Resistant to existing antibiotics, superbug-related infections worldwide result in thousands of deaths each year—an estimated 99,000 in the U.S. alone for each of the past 10 years.
These bacteria not only take a tragic toll on human life but involve major costs. A new study by MPHonline.org reports that superbugs are responsible for $20 billion in excess health care costs in the U.S. annually, as well as $35 billion in lost wages and other societal costs from the almost eight million days that infected patients spend in the hospital.
“We are in a crisis situation,” said Dr. Cesar Arias, an associate professor of infectious diseases at the University of Texas Health Science Center.
“The World Health Organization says this is one of the top three health threats to the world in this century, and I can’t argue with that,” said Arias, who has researched and written extensively on superbugs.
The main threats are the six labeled under the acronym ESKAPE—notably MRSA and, more recently, CRE, which has been found almost exclusively in hospitals and other health care facilities. But other pathogens, such as the one that causes gonorrhea, are also resistant to antibiotics. Tuberculosis-resistant strains have broken out in locations ranging from Los Angeles and to parts of India.