United Nations issues list of 12 most worrying drug-resistant bacteria

Pseudomonas aeruginosa is one bacterium on the WHO's list of highest priority needs for new antibiotics. Credit CDC Wikimedia

It highlights in particular the threat of Gram-negative bacteria - often referred to as superbugs - which are resistant to multiple antibiotics. Remembering how risky are these infections are regarding the critical-listed bacteria, this represents a serious public health problem for the United States government. Within a generation, without new antibiotics, deaths from drug resistant infection could reach 10m a year. But the scariest part is that really, it's hard to tell just how widespread the crisis already is because it is suspected that many superbug cases go unreported. These "priority pathogens" are divvied up into three buckets ranked by urgency, from "critical" to "high" to "medium". Six other bacteria families were listed as "high" priority, including the bacteria that causes gonorrhoea, a common infection that is rapidly becoming untreatable.

Doctors tried 26 different antibiotics, but the superbug fenced off all of them.

In addition, he said identifying carbapenem-resistant bacteria as the highest priority for research and development was "spot on". They aren't widespread yet, but they do cause severe, frequently deadly infections in hospitals, especially in people who are already immune compromised-including transplant recipients, chemotherapy patients, and elderly people.

The bacteria in the critical group include: Acinetobacter, Pseudomonas, and some Enterobacteriaceae (including E. coli, Klebsiella, Proteus, and Serratia).

After just one course of antibiotics, the risk of having antibiotic-resistant organisms increases by roughly 50 per cent.

Another of the superbugs that is of a concern in Australia is Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococcus Faecium. Worldwide, it could be as many at 700,000 people each year, though it's hard to gauge the exact number. It is resistant to methicillin, an antibiotic in the penicillin class. MSF also pointed out that drugs alone are not going to help deal with growing resistance. Helicobacter pylori, clarithromycin-resistant 4. Also, Streptococcus pneumoniae, a type of bacteria that infects the respiratory tract and nasal cavity, was also listed a priority.

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But experts worry that the colistin-resistant bacteria will spread their properties to other bacteria already resistant to more commonly used antibiotics, creating germs that can't be killed by any known drugs.

Shigella spp., fluoroquinolone-resistant: The result of this bacteria is like the propaganda machine for any evil dictator, lots of diarrhea.

Salmonellae: Strains of salmonella are responsible for things like food poisoning and typhoid fever.

But superbugs have even become an issue in developed countries like the United States, where some types of multi-resistant bacteria are a bigger problem than in Australia.

Mycobacterium tuberculosis, a particularly risky organism which has a high rate of infection in countries such as Russian Federation and China, has been left off the list as it has already been categorised as a high priority pathogen.

Bacillus anthracis vegetative cells and spores, which cause the infectious disease Anthrax, in a monkey spleen in an undated photomicrograph from the U.S Department of Defense. It's resistant to both fluoroquinolone and cephalosporin. "If hospitals ensure proper care to avoid such infections, many lives can be saved", said Dr Purva Mathur, a senior microbiologist at the hospital.

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