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CDC launches new plan to tackle antibiotic-resistant infections

The CDC has announced a new, five-year plan to tackle antibiotic-resistant infections. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
The CDC has announced a new, five-year plan to tackle antibiotic-resistant infections. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 9 (UPI) -- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials announced Friday what they describe as a "national action plan" to fight antibiotic-resistant infections.

The bacteria that cause these diseases cannot be treated by currently available antibiotic drugs, meaning patients who suffer from them may experience severe health complications or even death.

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Antibiotic-resistant bacteria have been linked with an estimated 35,000 deaths across the United States annually, and treating them costs the nation's healthcare system an estimated $4.8 billion per year, according to the CDC.

"The National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria gives the U.S. government its marching orders for the next five years to accelerate the nation's efforts to stop the spread of antibiotic-resistant bugs," the agency said in a statement.

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The plan was put together by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which the CDC operates under.

The CDC did not provide details on the cost of the plan, but reports suggest that, in the past, more than $150 million has been allocated annually by the agency to fight antibiotic-resistant threats in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. It is a follow-up to a similar initiative launched in 2015, the agency said.

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Examples of common antibiotic-resistant infections include staph -- such as methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA -- as well as Clostridioides difficile, or C. diff.

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The emergence of these bacteria has been linked with the overuse of antibiotics. About 30% of all antibiotics are administered unnecessarily, according to the CDC.

Roughly 2.8 million Americans are diagnosed with drug-resistant infections annually, and disease like MRSA can spread in public places, while C. diff typically circulates in healthcare facilities, the agency said.

The goal of the action plan is to reduce by 2025 the prevalence of healthcare-associated antibiotic-resistant infections like C. diff by 20% and community-acquired antibiotic-resistant infections like MRSA by 10%.

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To do so, the agency plans to expand its antibiotic resistance lab network internationally to identify and respond to emerging disease threats "in every corner of the world."

Domestically, the initiative will support investments in state and local health departments across the country, providing an average of $2.5 million per agency to "detect, contain and prevent antibiotic-resistant infections."

The plan also includes the establishment of a "Center of Excellence for Whole Genome Sequencing," which identifies the DNA make-up of bacteria, at the National Institutes of Health's National Center for Biotechnology Information to gain better understanding of how these diseases are transmitted.

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