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Thousands die in Japan due to overuse of antibiotics, research shows

By
Elizabeth Shim
More than 8,000 people die annually from antibiotic-resistant bacteria in Japan, scientists say in a new research report. File Photo by Jorge Dirkx/EPA
More than 8,000 people die annually from antibiotic-resistant bacteria in Japan, scientists say in a new research report. File Photo by Jorge Dirkx/EPA

Dec. 5 (UPI) -- More than 8,000 people die annually from antibiotic-resistant bacteria in Japan.

Japanese researchers at the Center Hospital of the National Center for Global Health and Medicine said methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, and fluoroquinolone-resistant salmonella were the leading causes of death among patients in 2017, Kyodo News and NHK reported Thursday.

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The total number of MRSA-related deaths was more than 4,200 in 2017, and the number of patients who died from salmonella was more than 3,900, according to researchers.

Patients' overuse of antibiotics and the application of antibiotics on animals for consumption, were cited as the causes of the fatalities.

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Hiroshige Mikamo, a bacteria expert at Aichi Medical University, said the actual number of annual deaths, not covered by the survey, would "easily eclipse 10,000," according to Kyodo.

Overuse of antibiotics could also be responsible for about 35,000 deaths annually in the United States, and another 33,000 people in Europe. The data for Japan was not known until the research report, the scientists said.

Researchers also say by 2050 more than 10 million people will have died due to antibiotic-resistant bacteria, according to NHK.

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Findings also indicate drug-resistant bacteria is affecting fewer patients; MRSA deaths have been on the decline since 2011.

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"As the number of MRSA deaths are falling, the government's measures against drug-resistant bacteria, including giving favorable treatments to hospitals promoting proper use of antibiotics, appear to be effective to a certain level," Mikamo said.

In October, health ministers of the G20 group of nations agreed in Okayama, Japan, to take urgent action on antibiotic resistance.

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