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Mapping antibiotic resistance through GLASS

| Updated on February 05, 2018

The World Health Organisation’s first release of surveillance data on antibiotic resistance reveals high levels of resistance to a number of serious bacterial infections in both high- and low-income countries.

GLASS or the Global Antimicrobial Surveillance System found widespread occurrence of antibiotic resistance among 500,000 people with suspected bacterial infections across 22 countries.

The most commonly reported resistant bacteria were Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Staphylococcus aureus, and Streptococcus pneumoniae, followed by Salmonella spp. GLASS does not include data on resistance of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which causes tuberculosis (TB), as WHO has been tracking it since 1994 and providing annual updates in the Global Tuberculosis Report.

Among patients with suspected bloodstream infection, the proportion that had bacteria resistant to at least one of the most commonly used antibiotics ranged tremendously between different countries — from zero to 82 per cent. Resistance to penicillin, the medicine used for decades worldwide to treat pneumonia, ranged from zero to 51 per cent among reporting countries. And between 8 per cent to 65 per cent of E. coli associated with urinary tract infections presented resistance to ciprofloxacin, an antibiotic commonly used to treat this condition.

“Some of the world’s most common – and potentially most dangerous – infections are proving drug-resistant,” said Dr Marc Sprenger, director of WHO’s Antimicrobial Resistance Secretariat. “And most worrying of all, pathogens don’t respect national borders. That’s why WHO is encouraging all countries to set up good surveillance systems for detecting drug resistance that can provide data to this global system.”

Surveillance on TB, HIV and malaria in the past have helped estimate the disease burden and design treatment interventions. GLASS is expected to perform a similar function for common bacterial pathogens.

Published on February 05, 2018

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