Diseases/Pathogens Associated with Antimicrobial Resistance
A growing number of disease-causing organisms, also known as pathogens, are resistant to one or more antimicrobial drugs. A wide range of pathogens—including the bacteria that cause tuberculosis, the viruses that causes influenza, the parasites that cause malaria, and the fungi that cause yeast infections—are becoming resistant to the antimicrobial agents used for treatment. This page contains links to further information about some of the organisms and diseases associated with antimicrobial resistance.
Acinetobacter is a type of gram-negative bacteria that is a cause of pneumonia or bloodstream infections among critically ill patients. Many of these bacteria have become very resistant to antibiotics.
Anthrax is a serious disease caused by Bacillus anthracis, a bacterium that forms spores. Anthrax most commonly occurs in wild and domestic mammalian species, but it can also occur in humans when they are exposed to infected animals or to tissue from infected animals or when anthrax spores are used as a bioterrorist weapon. Some strains of B. anthracis may be naturally resistant to certain antibiotics and not others. In addition, there may be biologically mutant strains that are engineered to be resistant to various antibiotics.
Campylobacter usually causes diarrhea (often bloody), fever, and abdominal cramps, and sometimes causes serious complications such as temporary paralysis.
Untreatable and hard-to-treat infections from carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) bacteria are on the rise among patients in medical facilities. CRE have become resistant to all or nearly all the antibiotics we have today. Almost half of hospital patients who get bloodstream infections from CRE bacteria die from the infection.
Neisseria gonorrhoeae causes gonorrhea, a sexually transmitted disease that can result in discharge and inflammation at the urethra, cervix, pharynx, or rectum.
Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is a type of bacteria that can cause severe illnesses in people of all ages, ranging from bloodstream infections (sepsis) and pneumonia to meningitis and skin infections.
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) causes a range of illnesses, from skin and wound infections to pneumonia and bloodstream infections that can cause sepsis and death. Staph bacteria, including MRSA, are one of the most common causes of healthcare-associated infections.
One of the leading causes of bacterial meningitis in children and young adults in the United States is the bacterium Neisseria meningitidis. Meningitis caused by this bacterium is known as meningococcal disease. During 2007-2008 the first reported cases of fluoroquinolone-resistant Neisseria meningitides were reported in the United States
Non-typhoidal Salmonella (serotypes other than Typhi, Paratyphi A, Paratyphi B, and Paratyphi C) usually causes diarrhea (sometimes bloody), fever, and abdominal cramps. Some infections spread to the blood and can have life-threatening complications.
Shigella usually causes diarrhea (sometimes bloody), fever, and abdominal pain. Sometimes it causes serious complications such as reactive arthritis. High-risk groups include young children, people with inadequate handwashing and hygiene habits, and men who have sex with men.
Streptococcus pneumoniae (S. pneumoniae, or pneumococcus) is the leading cause of bacterial pneumonia and meningitis in the United States. It also is a major cause of bloodstream infections and ear and sinus infections.
Tuberculosis (TB) is among the most common infectious diseases and a frequent cause of death worldwide. TB is caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M. tuberculosis) and is spread most commonly through the air. M. tuberculosis can affect any part of the body, but disease is found most often in the lungs. In most cases, TB is treatable and curable with the available first-line TB drugs; however, in some cases, M. tuberculosis can be resistant to one or more of the drugs used to treat it. Drug-resistant TB is more challenging to treat — it can be complex and requires more time and more expensive drugs that often have more side effects. Extensively Drug-Resistant TB (XDR TB) is resistant to most TB drugs; therefore, patients are left with treatment options that are much less effective. The major factors driving TB drug resistance are incomplete or wrong treatment, short drug supply, and lack of new drugs. In the United States most drug-resistant TB is found among persons born outside of the country.
Salmonella serotype Typhi causes typhoid fever, a potentially life-threatening disease. People with typhoid fever usually have a high fever, abdominal pain, and headache. Typhoid fever can lead to bowel perforation, shock, and death.
Enterococci cause a range of illnesses, mostly among patients receiving healthcare, but include bloodstream infections, surgical site infections, and urinary tract infections.
Staphylococcus aureus is a common type of bacteria that is found on the skin. During medical procedures when patients require catheters or ventilators or undergo surgical procedures, Staphylococcus aureus can enter the body and cause infections. When Staphylococcus aureus becomes resistant to vancomycin, there are few treatment options available because vancomycin-resistant S. aureus bacteria identified to date were also resistant to methicillin and other classes of antibiotics.
Influenza (the flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. In the United States, four antiviral drugs are FDA-approved for use against influenza: amantadine, rimantadine, zanamivir and oseltamivir. Samples of viruses collected from around the United States and worldwide are studied to determine if they are resistant to any of the four FDA-approved influenza antiviral drugs.
Candidiasis is a fungal infection caused by yeasts of the genus Candida. There are more than 20 species of Candida yeasts that can cause infection in humans, the most common of which is Candida albicans. Candida yeasts normally live on the skin and mucous membranes without causing infection. However, overgrowth of these microorganisms can cause symptoms to develop. Symptoms of candidiasis vary depending on the area of the body that is infected. Candida is the fourth most common cause of healthcare-associated bloodstream infections in the United States. In some hospitals it is the most common cause. These infections tend to occur in the sickest of patients.
Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease caused by a parasite. People with malaria often experience fever, chills, and flu-like symptoms. The development of resistance to drugs poses one of the greatest threats to malaria control and has been linked to recent increases in malaria morbidity and mortality. Antimicrobial resistance has been confirmed in only two of the four human malaria parasite species, Plasmodium falciparum and P. vivax.
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