Bacterial infections that don’t respond to antibiotics are becoming a major cause of death around the world. The British Medical Journal Lancet recently reported 1.3 million deaths globally due to antibiotic resistant infections. This translates to 16.4 deaths per 100,000 people. This is twice as many people than those who died from malaria (the fifth leading cause of death worldwide).
The bacteria that are the mischief makers include E. coli, Staph aureus, Clostridium difficile, Klebsiella spp, Acinetobacter baumannii, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Enterococcus faecium and Enterobacteriaceae.
The two main causes of the problem are bacteria’s innate ability to mutate to drug resistant forms and overuse of antibiotics. The overuse phenomenon is in both people and animals. The industrial nature of food production utilizes antibiotics in the food for chickens, turkeys, cows, pigs and cattle with the subsequent transfer to humans via their diet. The other overuse is in medical treatment of people. It is estimated that at least 2/3 of antibiotics prescribed for humans are not needed as the illness is viral in nature, not bacterial. Also, even in true bacterial infections such as pneumonia and urinary infections the length of antibiotic prescriptions is greater than necessary to resolve the infection. In this regard a recently published research study by John’s Hopkins University found a similar clinical cure rate in children with community acquired pneumonia with a five-day antibiotic regimen versus a standard ten-day regimen. Multiple research studies have found similar results in uncomplicated urinary tract infections.