Antibiotics and similar drugs, together called antimicrobial agents, have been used for the last 70 years to treat patients who have infectious diseases. These drugs have greatly reduced illness and death from infectious diseases. When prescribed and taken correctly, the value of antibiotic use in patient care is enormous. However, these drugs have been used so widely (at times inappropriately) and for so long that the infectious organisms the antibiotics are designed to kill have adapted, making the drugs less effective. The following figure illustrates how antibiotic resistance happens.
Image Courtesy of CDC
Every year, more than two million people in the United States are infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics, and at least 23,000 people die as a result according to a report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Some microorganisms may develop resistance to a single antimicrobial agent (or related class of agent), while others develop resistance to several antimicrobial agents or classes. These latter organisms are often referred to as multidrug-resistant organisms (MDRO) or MDR strains. In some cases, the microorganisms have become so resistant that no available antibiotics are effective against them. The following image provides some examples of how antibiotic resistance spreads.
Image Courtesy of CDC
Selected Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria of Concern:
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, often called MRSA, are bacteria that are often resistant to many antibiotics. These bacteria can cause skin infections out in the community, and in the healthcare setting MRSA can cause more serious infections such as bloodstream infections, pneumonia and surgical infections. Please view our fact sheet for more information.
Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) are being seen more frequently in patients in healthcare facilities. CRE are resistant to most, and in some cases, all available antibiotics. These bacteria have been detected in Hawaii and are categorized as “urgent threats” by CDC.
For more information on these and other antibiotic resistant bacteria, visit the CDC’s website.
To view the Hawaii Statewide Antibiogram for Selected Bacteria of Public Health Significance report click here