A CDC report adds two organisms to a list of five bacteria and fungi considered urgent threats

Close to 3 million people in the United States develop difficult to treat infections caused by drug-resistant bacteria and fungi each year — and about 35,000 die, according to a new government report.

“The modern medicine available to us today may very well be gone tomorrow if we don’t slow the development of antibiotic resistance,” said Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, during a news briefing on November 13.

In its first report on drug-resistant infections in six years, the CDC revised its 2013 report using newly available data including electronic health records from over 700 hospitals. The number of annual deaths from drug-resistant infections at that time is now estimated to have been around 44,000 — almost double the 23,000 deaths previously estimated.

The new report also estimates that currently about 35,000 people die annually from drug-resistant infections, reflecting an 18 percent decrease from the revised number of the 2013 report. That shows there’s been progress in reducing the spread of drug-resistant microbes typically associated with hospitals, a major source of deaths, said Michael Craig, a senior advisor on antimicrobial resistance at the CDC, during the news briefing…

“The CDC’s new numbers represent excellent progress in assessing the burden of antibiotic resistance, but they still likely underestimate its vast impact,” says Greg Frank, director of infectious disease policy for the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, an industry group in Washington, D.C. Deaths due to drug-resistant microbes are often underreported because many patients with these infections also have other health issues that could get recorded as the cause of death, he says.

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