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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been massively underestimating the number of annual deaths caused by antibiotic resistance, a new report reveals.
Superbugs are bacterial infections that are untreatable by most or all antibiotics.
CDC - People - Infections - US - Year
The CDC had estimated that about 23,000 people died of resistant infections in the US each year.
But a new study from Washington University St Louis (WUSTL) found that that number is actually more than 153,000 - 6.6 times higher than the CDC had thought.
Resistance - Health - Priority - US - World
Antibiotic resistance is considered a top public health priority by the US as well as the World Heath Organization, and it's getting worse.
Much worse, according to the new review of death records.
Researchers - WUSTL - Records - Deaths
Researchers at WUSTL examined records of deaths from 2010.
Using the known rate of antibiotic resistance in the various kinds of infections - 28.8 percent - they determined that at least 70,837 deaths in hospitals were from these superbugs.
Rate - Deaths - Deaths - Infections
Applying the same rate to outpatient deaths, they found that that between 82,276 and 91,207 deaths were due to antibiotic resistant infections.
That brought the total of superbug-related deaths to 153,113 for the year.
Infections - Causes - Death - CDC - Math
In 2010, antibiotic resistant infections didn't even make the top 10 leading causes of death, according to the CDC's math.
But, recalculated, antibiotic resistant infections would now rank as the third leading cause of death that year.
Resistance - Death - Toll - Superbugs - Year
With antibiotic resistance rapidly spreading, the death toll from superbugs was likely far higher last year than the 153,000 lives it claimed in 2010 - and will kill more again this year.
The numbers are horrifying, but not surprising, to lead study author Dr Jason Burnham.
Numbers - CDC - Way - Records - Deaths
He says that the low-ball numbers from the CDC are due largely to the way records of deaths are kept and reporting requirements - or rather lack thereof.
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Sorry Mr. Franklin, we couldn't keep it.