Drug-resistant "superbug" infections have been called a public health threat that could push medical progress back a century. Health experts warn such infections could cause some germs to become untreatable.
So there was surprising news in a recent report: superbug deaths in the United States appear to be going down.
About 36,000 Americans died from drug-resistant infections in 2017, compared to an estimated 44,000 in 2013. That information comes from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The recent CDC report says the decrease is mainly the result of a major effort by hospitals to control the spread of very dangerous infections.
"We are pushing back in a battle we were losing," pharmacist Michael Kirsch told The Associated Press. He works at AdventHealth Tampa, a Florida hospital that has noted lower superbug infection rates.
"I would not, by any means, declare success," Kirsch said.
药剂师迈克尔·基尔希对美联社说：“我们正在输掉一场失败的战斗。” 他在佛罗里达州的AdventHealth Tampa工作，该医院注意到超级细菌的感染率较低。
And he's right.
Though superbug deaths are decreasing, nonfatal infections grew nationally, from 2.6 million in 2013 to 2.8 million in 2017. Some troublesome new germs are developing. And superbugs are appearing much more often outside of hospitals, the CDC report said.
For example, urinary tract infections have been easily treated in doctor's offices with common antibiotic medicines. But now it is more common to see young healthy women with such infections admitted to hospitals after their treatments do not work, said Doctor Bradley Frazee. He works at a hospital emergency room in California.
"We never really worried about this kind of antibiotic resistance in the past," said Frazee. Last year, he was lead writer of a report which noted more than 1,000 drug-resistant urinary tract infections at Highland Hospital in Oakland.
Antibiotic drugs first became widely available in the United States during the 1940s. And today antibiotics are used to kill or control bacteria that cause all kinds of infections, from strep throat to the plague.
例如，尿道感染在医生的办公室很容易用普通的抗生素药物治疗。 但布拉德利·弗雷泽医生说，现在更常见的情况是，年轻健康的妇女在治疗后因无效而被送入医院。 他在加利福尼亚的一家医院急诊室工作。
But some antibiotics have stopped working. Experts say overuse and misuse have made these drugs less effective.
The new CDC report marks only the second time the government agency has tried to measure the numbers of U.S. illnesses and deaths linked to drug-resistant germs. The first report was released six years ago. This time, the CDC used new information and re-examined the 2013 numbers. This led to larger estimates.
疾病预防控制中心新的报告仅是该政府机构第二次尝试测量与耐药菌有关的美国疾病和死亡人数。 第一份报告是六年前发布的。 这次，疾控中心使用了新的信息并重新检查了2013年的数字。 这导致了更大的估计数目。
The 2013 report estimated that superbugs were to blame for more than 23,000 U.S. deaths and more than 2 million infections each year. Those numbers were based on 17 germs that were considered the greatest threat.
But the 2013 count did not include the thousands of deaths and illnesses from a nasty bug called Clostridium difficile. It is considered part of the larger problem because, when antibiotics kill other bacteria, C. diff can grow uncontrollably. The good news is C. diff infections and deaths have also been decreasing.
但是，2013年的统计数据不包括因难辨梭状芽胞杆菌而生的数以千计的死亡和疾病。 它被认为是更大问题的一部分，因为当抗生素杀死其他细菌时，C. diff可能无法控制地生长。 好消息是C. diff感染和死亡人数也在下降。
Overall, public health officials admit the superbug problem is probably even bigger. A 2018 paper suggested more than 153,000 Americans die each year from infections resulting from two or more drug resistant organisms.
The difference is in where researchers get their data and what is included.
Dr. Jason Burnham was the lead writer of the paper. He says there is not agreement worldwide on how to define a drug-resistant infection.
Burnham is an infectious diseases researcher at the Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.
Jason Burnham博士是该论文的主要作者。 他说，在全球范围内如何定义耐药性感染尚无共识。
For the newly released report, CDC researchers examined new sources of records for data. For example, some earlier estimates were based on reports from about 180 hospitals. This time, CDC was able to use the electronic health records of about 700 hospitals.
Among the CDC's other findings:
—There were fewer cases of several nasty hospital-related germs, including drug-resistant tuberculosis and the bug known as MRSA.
—Infections from the bacteria CRE – often called the "nightmare bacteria" -- stayed about the same instead of increasing.
对于最新发布的报告，疾病预防控制中心的研究人员检查了新的数据记录来源。 例如，一些较早的估计是基于约180家医院的报告。 这次，CDC能够使用大约700家医院的电子健康记录。
U.S. health officials credit hospitals for using antibiotics more carefully, and doing more to isolate patients with resistant infections. They also believe government money for laboratories has helped researchers more quickly identify drug-resistant germs and take action against them.
Still, CDC officials said there's not much cause for celebration.
"There are still way too many people dying," said Michael Craig, a leader in CDC's superbug threat research. "We have a long way to go before we can feel we can even get ahead of this."
Words in This Story：
germ– n. a very small living thing that causes disease
pharmacist – n. a person whose job is to prepare and sell the drugs and medicines that a doctor prescribes for patients
nonfatal– adj. not causing death
urinary tract– n. the body's drainage system for removing urine
illness– n. a sickness or disease
data– n. facts or information used usually to calculate, analyze, or plan something
nightmare– n. a dream that frightens a sleeping person
isolate– v. to put or keep someone or something in a place or situation that is separate from others
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