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CDC "concerned" about drug-resistant Salmonella

Photo of a different strain of Salmonella as it invades cultured human cells
A different strain of Salmonella (red) invades cultured human cells. Photo: Media for Medical/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday it is "concerned" about a new multidrug-resistant strain of Salmonella that killed 2 and sickened 255 people from June 2018 to March 2019.

Why it matters: Experts have sounded the alarm over growing antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in the U.S. and globally.

"This is an example of the type of outbreak that we would argue would only increase in frequency and magnitude as time goes on."
— Greg Frank, head of new advocacy coalition Working to Fight AMR

Driving the news: The "CDC is concerned about an increase in human illness from a new strain of multidrug-resistant Salmonella Newport that appears to have spread from cattle in the U.S. and Mexico," according to its press release.

  • This strain shows either partial or complete resistance to 2 of the most common antibiotics: azithromycin and ciprofloxacin, per the Aug. 23 MMWR report.
  • During that time period, for patients with available info, 60 were hospitalized, 4 were admitted to the intensive care unit, and 2 died. 43% reported the illness after travel to Mexico.
  • The food-borne illness was linked to Mexican-style soft cheese obtained in Mexico and beef obtained in the U.S.

Context: This is one example of the dire threat posed by all AMR, one that could be killing up to 162,044 people in the U.S. every year — which would make it the third leading cause of death, says Frank. (The CDC is updating its AMR report this fall, but its last report from 2013 shows annual U.S. deaths were "at least 23,000 people.")

  • AMR is growing for multiple reasons, including a lack of return on investment.
  • Frank points to Achaogen, which had received approval of an important new antibiotic targeting a superbug, but recently had to declare bankruptcy after it only made $1 million in its first 6 months on the market.

What's next: Frank, who also is the director of infectious disease policy at the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, says the new coalition was formed to raise public awareness of the growing threat from AMR.

  • The coalition also advocates for policies promoting the development of new antibiotics under a stewardship program to ensure appropriate use — and is watching bills recently introduced to the Senate: the DISARM Act and the STAAR Act.

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