People are becoming increasingly resistant to “last-line” antibiotics used to treat serious pneumonia and bloodstream infections, according to disease prevention experts.
In a new report from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, researchers found that resistance to “last resort drugs”, known as carbapenems, is increasing across Europe.
The EU average percentage of carbapenem resistance in Klebsiella pneumoniae increased from 6.2% in 2012 to 8.1% in 2015.
The data also shows that that antibiotic resistance in Escherichia coli, one of the most frequent causes of bloodstream infections and community- and healthcare-associated urinary tract infections, requires close attention as resistance continues to increase throughout Europe.
However, a report from Public Health England, also released today, found that resistance to carbapenems remains low in bloodstream infections in England.
The PHE report found that healthcare workers across the system are prescribing fewer antibiotics for the first time.
Safely reducing the amount of antibiotics that are inappropriately prescribed is a vital part of the work to tackle antibiotic resistance.
Professor Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer said: “Antimicrobial resistance is the biggest threat to global health – it could halt the progress of over a century of modern medicine. Before antibiotics and vaccines, around 40% of all deaths were due to infections, now it is just 7%. We do not want to see this reversed so we must do all we can to fight drug resistant infections.
“Reducing inappropriate antibiotic prescribing is a key element in the fight against drug resistant infections and I am really pleased to see staff across the entire NHS making positive changes. We all have a role to play, and preventing infection through good hygiene and not demanding antibiotics when they are not clinically justified are just two of the ways we can help.”
In England, bloodstream infections caused by Escherichia coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae increased by 15.6% and 20.8% respectively between 2010 and 2014.
In 2015 further increases were seen: E. coli by 4.6% and K. pneumoniae by 9%.
Dr Susan Hopkins, lead author and healthcare epidemiologist at PHE, said: “The overall decrease in the number of antibiotics being prescribed is great news but we can’t become complacent; there is still a lot of work to be done.”