Washington, D.C. -- A new study in the journal Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology reports a surge in drug-resistant strains of Acinetobacter, a dangerous type of bacteria that is becoming increasingly common in U.S. hospitals. This study is being posted online today and will appear in the journal's February print edition.
Acinetobacter infections attack patients in hospital intensive care units (ICUs) and others and have recently plagued soldiers returning home from the war in Iraq. These infections often appear as severe pneumonias or bloodstream infections, and require strong drugs to be treated, when they can be stopped at all.
Using data from 300 hospitals around the country, researchers at the Extending the Cure project analyzed trends in resistance to imipenem, an antibiotic often reserved as a last-line treatment. The study found that between 1999 and 2006, there was more than a 300% increase in the proportion of Acinetobacter cases resistant to the drug. Extending the Cure is supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Pioneer Portfolio, which funds innovative ideas that may lead to breakthroughs in the future of health and health care.
"The findings are troubling because they suggest this bacteria is becoming resistant to nearly everything in our arsenal," said Ramanan Laxminarayan, the principal investigator of Extending the Cure, a project examining antibiotic resistance at the Washington, D.C. based think-tank Resources for the Future. "There is a lot of attention on MRSA, but less on infections caused by bacteria like Acinetobacter for which there are fewer drugs in the development pipeline. While all drug resistance is of concern, it is particularly worrying in the case of bugs for which we have few treatment options."
To address this growing public health threat, the nation must adopt a comprehensive solution to the problem of antibiotic resistance, the researchers said. For example, we should institute more rigorous infection control on a regional basis. In addition, drug companies must be given incentives to develop novel antibiotics that can destroy these resistant strains, according to authors.
If you would like to receive a copy of this study or speak to a report author, please contact Kay Campbell at firstname.lastname@example.org, (301) 652-1558, or Maya Sequeira at email@example.com, 202-328-5170.
Extending the Cure studies policy solutions to the growing problem of antibiotic resistance at Resources for the Future, an independent Washington, D.C. think-tank. www.extendingthecure.org.
As the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful, and timely change. The Foundation's Pioneer Portfolio supports innovative ideas and projects that may lead to important breakthroughs in health and health care. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime. For more information, visit www.rwjf.org/pioneer.